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Full text of "Lord of the world"

DUKE UNIVERSITY 



LIBRARY 



The Glenn Negley Collection 
of Utopian Literature 






/te^»***»<^*^/ 2*^ 



LORD OF THE WORLD 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

a 
THE LIGHT INVISIBLE 
BY WHAT AUTHORITY? 
THE KING'S ACHIEVEMENT 
THE QUEEN'S TRAGEDY 
RICHARD RAYNAL, SOLITARY 
THE SENTIMENTALISTS 
A MIRROR OF SHALOTT 

a 
A BOOK OF THE LOVE OF JESUS 









LORD OF THE 
WORT-D 

BY 
ROBERT HUGH BENSON 

NEW YORK 

DODD, MEAD & COMPANY 

1908 











Copyright, 1907 
By Donn, Mead & CojipanV 

Published March, 1908 






Bebtcatton 

CLAVI DOMUS DAVID 



561343 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 with funding from 
Duke University Libraries 



http://www.archive.org/details/lordofworldOObens 



PREFACE 

I AM perfectly aware that this Is a terribly sensational 
book, and open to innumerable criticisms on that account, as 
well as on many others. But I did not know how else to 
express the principles I desired (and which I passionately 
believe to be true) except by producing their lines to a 
sensational point. I have tried, however, not to scream 
unduly loud, and to retain, so far as possible, reverence and 
consideration for the opinions of other people. Whether I 
have succeeded in that attempt is quite another matter. 

Robert Hugh Benson. 
Cambridge, 1907. 



5C1343 



CONTENTS 

FAOZ 

Prologue xi 

BOOK I 
The Advent 1 

BOOK II 
The Encounter 93 



BOOK III 
The Victory 261 



Persons who do not like tiresome pro- 
logues, need not read this one. It is 
essential only to the situation, not to 
the story. 



PROLOGUE 

"You must give me a moment," said the old man, leaning 
back. 

Percy resettled himself in his chair and waited, chin on 
hand. 

It was a very silent room in which the three men sat, fur- 
nished with the extreme common sense of the period. It 
had neither window nor door; for it was now sixty years 
since the world, recognising that space is not confined to 
the surface of the globe, had begun to burrow in earnest. 
Old Mr. Templeton's house stood some forty feet below the 
level of the Thames embankment, in what was considered a 
somewhat commodious position, for he had only a hundred 
yards to walk before he reached the station of the Second 
Central Motor-circle, and a quarter of a mile to the volor- 
station at Blackfriars. He was over ninety years old, 
however, and seldom left his house now. The room itself 
was lined throughout with the delicate green jade-enamel 
prescribed by the Board of Health, and was suffused with 
the artificial sunlight discovered by the great Renter forty 
years before ; it had the colour-tone of a spring wood, and 
was warmed and ventilated through the classical frieze 
grating to the exact temperature of 18° Centigrade. 
Mr. Templeton was a plain man, content to live as his 
father had lived before him. The furniture, too, was a 



xil THE PROLOGUE 

little old-fashioned In make and design, constructed how- 
ever according to the prevailing system of soft asbestos 
enamel welded over iron, indestructible, pleasant to the 
touch, and resembling mahogany. A couple of book-cases 
well filled ran on either side of the bronze pedestal electric 
fire before which sat the three men ; and in the further 
corners stood the hydraulic lifts that gave entrance, the 
one to the bedroom, the other to the corridor fifty feet up 
which opened on to the Embankment. 

Father Percy Franklin, the elder of the two priests, was 
rather a remarkable-looking man, not more than thirty-five 
years old, but with hair that was white throughout ; his 
grey eyes, under black eyebrows, were peculiarly bright 
and almost passionate ; but his prominent nose and chin 
and the extreme decisiveness of his mouth reassured the 
observer as to his will. Strangers usually looked twice at 
him. 

Father Francis, however, sitting in his upright chair on 
the other side of the hearth, brought down the average; 
for, though his brown eyes were pleasant and pathetic, there 
was no strength in his face; there was even a tendency to 
feminine melancholy in the corners of his mouth and the 
marked droop of his eyelids. 

Mr. Templeton was just a very old man, with a strong 
face in folds, clean-shaven like the rest of the world, and 
was now lying back on his water-pillows with the quilt over 
his feet. 

At last he spoke, glancing first at Percy, on his left. 
"Well," he said, "it is a great business to remember 
exactly; but this is how I put it to myself." 



THE PROLOGUE xiii 

"In England our party was first seriously alarmed at the 
Labour Parliament of 1917. That showed us how deeply 
Herveism had impregnated the whole social atmosphere. 
There had been Socialists before, but none like Gustave 
Herve in his old age — at least no one of the same power. 
He, perhaps you have read, taught absolute Materialism 
and Socialism developed to their logical issues. Patriotism, 
he said, was a relic of barbarism; and sensual enjoyment 
was the only certain good. Of course, every one laughed 
at him. It was said that without religion there could be 
no adequate motive among the masses for even the simplest 
social order. But he was right, it seemed. After the fall 
of the French Church at the beginning of the century and 
the massacres of 1914, the bourgeoisie settled down to or- 
ganise itself; and that extraordinary movement began in 
earnest, pushed through by the middle classes, with no 
patriotism, no class distinctions, practically no army. Of 
course. Freemasonry directed it all. This spread to Ger- 
many, where the influence of Karl Marx had already " 

"Yes, sir," put in Percy smoothly, "but what of Eng- 
land, if you don't mind " 

"Ah, yes; England. Well, in 1917 the Labour party 
gathered up the reins, and Communism really began. 
That was long before I can remember, of course, but my 
father used to date it from then. The only wonder was 
that things did not go forward more quickly ; but I sup- 
pose there was a good deal of Tory leaven left. Besides, 
centuries generally' run slower than is expected, especially 
after beginning with an impulse. But the new order began 
then ; and the Communists have never suff'ered a serious 
reverse since, except the little one in '25. Blenkin founded 



xiv THE PROLOGUE 

*The New People' then ; and the 'Times' dropped out ; but 
it was not, strangely enough, till '35 that the House of 
Lords fell for the last time. The Established Church had 
gone finally in '29." 

"And the religious effect of that?" asked Percy swiftly, 
as the old man paused to cough slightly, lifting his in- 
haler. The priest was anxious to keep to the point. 

"It was an effect itself," said the other, "rather than a 
cause. You see, the Ritualists, as they used to call them, 
after a desperate attempt to get into the Labour swim, 
came into the Church after the Convocation of '19, when 
the Nicene Creed dropped out ; and there was no real enthu- 
siasm except among them. But so far as there was an 
effect from the final Disestablishment, I think it was that 
what was left of the State Church melted into the Free 
Church, and the Free Church was, after all, nothing more 
than a little sentiment. The Bible was completely given 
up as an authority after the renewed German attacks in 
the twenties ; and the Divinity of our Lord, some think, 
had gone all but in name by the beginning of the century. 
The Kenotic theory had provided for that. Then there 
was that strange little movement among the Free Church- 
men even earlier; when ministers who did no more than 
follow the swim — who were sensitive to draughts, so to 
speak — broke off from their old positions. It is curious 
to read in the history of the time how they were hailed as 
independent thinkers. It was just exactly what they were 
not. . . . Where was I? Oh, yes. . . . Well, that cleared 
the ground for us, and the Church made extraordinary 
progress for a while — extraordinary, that is, under the 
circumstances, because you must remember, things were 



THE PROLOGUE xv 

very different from twenty, or even ten, years before. I 
mean that, roughly speaking, the severing of the sheep and 
the goats had begun. The religious people were practi- 
cally all Catholics and Individualists ; the irreligious people 
rejected the supernatural altogether, and were, to a man, 
INIaterialists and Communists. But we made progress be- 
cause we had a few exceptional men — Delaney the philos- 
opher, IMcArthur and Largent, the philanthropists, and 
so on. It really seemed as if Delaney and his disciples 
might carry everything before them. You remember his 
'Analogy'.? Oh, yes, it is all in the text-books. . . . 

"Well, then, at the close of the Vatican Council, which had 
been called in the nineteenth century, and never dissolved, 
we lost a great number through the final definitions. The 
'Exodus of the Intellectuals' the world called it " 

"The Biblical decisions," put in the younger priest. 

"That partly; and the whole conflict that began with 
the rise of Modernism at the beginning of the century: 
but much more the condemnation of Delaney, and of the 
New Transcendentalism generally, as it was then under- 
stood. He died outside the Church, you know. Then 
there was the condemnation of Sciotti's book on Compara- 
tive Religion. . . . After that the Communists went on 
by strides, although by very slow ones. It seems extraordi- 
nary to you, I dare say, but you cannot Imagine the excite- 
ment when the Necessary Trades Bill became law in '60. 
People thought that all enterprise would stop when so many 
professions were nationalised; but, you know. It didn't. 
Certainly the nation was behind it," 

"What year was the Two-Thirds Majority Bill passed?" 
asked Percy. 



xvi THE PROLOGUE 

"Oh! long before — within a year or two of the fall of 
the House of Lords. It was necessary, I think, or the Indi- 
vidualists would have gone raving mad. . . . Well, the 
Necessary Trades Bill was inevitable : people had begun to 
see that even so far back as the time when the railways 
were municipalised. For a while there was a burst of art ; 
because all the Individualists who could went in for it (it 
was then that the Toller school was founded) ; but they 
soon drifted back into Government employment; after all, 
the six-per-cent limit for all individual enterprise was not 
much of a temptation; and Government paid well." 

Percy shook his head. 

"Yes ; but I cannot understand the present state of af- 
fairs. You said just now that things went slowly.'"' 

"Yes," said the old man, "but you must remember the 
Poor Laws. That established the Communists for ever. 
Certainly Braithwaite knew his business." 

The younger priest looked up inquiringly. 

"The abolition of the old workhouse system," said Mr. 
Templeton. "It is aU ancient history to you, of course ; 
but I remember as if it was yesterday. It was that which 
brought down what was still called the Monarchy and the 
Universities." 

"Ah," said Percy. "I should like to hear you talk about 
that, sir." 

"Presently, father. . . . Well, this is what Braithwaite 
did. By the old system all paupers were treated alike, and 
resented it. By the new system there were the three grades 
that we have now, and the enfranchisement of the two 
higher grades. Only the absolutely worthless were as- 
signed to the third grade, and treated more or less as crimi- 



THE PROLOGUE xvii 

nals — of course after careful examination. Then there 
was the reorganisation of the Old Age Pensions. Well, 
don't you see how strong that made the Communists.'' The 
Individualists — they were still called Tories when I was a 
boy — the Individualists have had no chance since. They 
are no more than a worn-out drag now. The whole of the 
working classes — and that meant ninety-nine of a hundred 
— were all against them." 

Percy looked up ; but the other went on. 

"Then there was the Prison Reform Bill under Macpher- 
son, and the abolition of capital punishment ; there was 
the final Education Act of '59, whereby dogmatic secular- 
ism was established; the practical abolition of inheritance 
under the reformation of the Death Duties " 

**I forget what the old system was," said Percy. 

"Why, it seems incredible, but the old system was that 
all paid alike. First came the Heirloom Act, and then the 
change by which inherited wealth paid three times the duty 
of earned wealth, leading up to the acceptance of Karl 
Marx's doctrines in '89 — but the former came in '77. . . . 
Well, all these things kept England up to the level of the 
Continent; she had only been just in time to join in with 
the final scheme of Western Free Trade. That was the 
first effect, you remember, of the Socialists' victory in 
Germany." 

"And how did we keep out of the Eastern War?" asked 
Percy anxiously. 

"Oh ! that's a long story ; but, in a word, America stopped 
us ; so we lost India and Australia. I think that was the 
nearest to the downfall of the Communists since '25. But 
Braithwaite got out of it very cleverly by getting us the 



xviii THE PROLOGUE 

protectorate of South Africa once and for all. He was an 
old man then, too." 

Mr. Templeton stopped to cough again. Father Francis 
sighed and shifted in his chair. 

"And America?" asked Percy. 

"Ah! all that is very complicated. But she knew her 
strength and annexed Canada the same year. That was 
when we were at our weakest." 

Percy stood up. 

"Have you a Comparative Atlas, sir?" he asked. 

The old man pointed to a shelf. 

"There," he said. 

Percy looked at the sheets a minute or two in silence, 
spreading them on his knees. 

"It is all much simpler, certainly," he murmured, glanc- 
ing first at the old complicated colouring of the beginning 
of the twentieth century, and then at the three great washes 
of the twenty-first. 

He moved his finger along Asia. The words Eastern 
Empire ran across the pale yellow, from the Ural Moun- 
tains on the left to the Behring Straits on the right, curl- 
ing round in giant letters through India, Australia, and 
New Zealand. He glanced at the red ; it was considerably 
smaller, but still important enough, considering that it cov- 
ered not only Europe proper, but all Russia up to the Ural 
Mountains, and Africa to the south. The blue-labelled 
American Republic swept over the whole of that con- 
tinent, and disappeared right round to the left of the West- 
ern Hemisphere in a shower of blue sparks on the white sea. 

"Yes, it's simpler," said the old man drily. 



THE PROLOGUE xlx 

Percy shut the book and set It by his chair. 

"And what next, sir? What will happen?" 

The old Tory statesman smiled. 

"God knows," he said. "If the Eastern Empire chooses 
to move, we can do nothing. I don't know why they have 
not moved. I suppose it is because of religious differences." 

"Europe will not split?" asked the priest. 

"No, no. We know our danger now. And America would 
certainly help us. But, all the same, God help us — or you, 
I should rather say — if the Empire does move! She 
knows her strength at last." 

There was silence for a moment or two. A faint vibration 
trembled through the deep-sunk room as some huge ma- 
chine went past on the broad boulevard overhead. 

"Prophesy, sir," said Percy suddenly. "I mean about re- 
ligion." 

Mr. Templeton inhaled another long breath from his In- 
strument. Then again he took up his discourse. 

"Briefly," he said, "there are three forces — Catholicism, 
Humanitarianism, and the Eastern religions. About the 
third I cannot prophesy, though I think the Sufis will be 
victorious. Anything may happen ; Esotericism is making 
enormous strides — and that means Pantheism; and the 
blending of the Chinese and Japanese dynasties throws out 
all our calculations. But in Europe and America, there 
is no doubt that the struggle lies between the other two. 
We can neglect everything else. And, I think, If you wish 
me to say what I think, that, humanly speaking, Catholi- 
cism will decrease rapidly now. It is perfectly true that 
Protestantism is dead. Men do recognise at last that a 
supernatural Religion involves an absolute authority, and 



XX THE PROLOGUE 

that Private Judgment in matters of faith is nothing else 
than the beginning of disintegration. And it is also true 
that since the Catholic Church is the only institution that 
even claims supernatural authority, with all its merciless 
logic, she has again the allegiance of practically all Chris- 
tians who have any supernatural belief left. There are a 
few faddists left, especially in America and here ; but they 
are negligible. That is all very well ; but, on the other 
hand, you must remember that Humanitarianism, contrary 
to all persons' expectations, is becoming an actual religion 
itself, though anti-supernatural. It is Pantheism ; it is de- 
veloping a ritual under Freemasonry ; it has a creed, 'God is 
Man,' and the rest. It has therefore a real food of a sort 
to offer to religious cravings ; it idealises, and yet it makes 
no demand upon the spiritual faculties. Then, they have 
the use of all the churches except ours, and all the Cathe- 
drals ; and they are beginning at last to encourage senti- 
ment. Then, they may displa}' their symbols and we may 
not : I think that they will be established legally in another 
ten years at the latest. 

"Now, we Catholics, remember, are losing; we have lost 
steadily for more than fifty years. I suppose that we have, 
nominally, about one-fortieth of America now — and that 
is the result of the Catholic movement of the early twenties. 
In France and Spain we are nowhere ; in Germany we are 
less. We hold our position in the East, certainly ; but even 
there we have not more than one in two hundred — so the 
statistics say — and we are scattered. In Italy.'' Well, we 
have Rome again to ourselves, but nothing else ; here, we 
have Ireland altogether and perhaps one in sixty of Eng- 
land, Wales and Scotland ; but we had one in fortj' seventy 



THE PROLOGUE xxl 

years ago. Then there is the enormous progress of 
psychology — all clean against us for at least a century. 
First, you see, there was Materialism, pure and simple — 
that failed more or less — it was too crude — until psychology 
came to the rescue. Now psychology claims all the rest of 
the ground; and the supernatural sense seems accounted 
for. That's the claim. No, father, we are losing; and 
we shall go on losing, and I think we must even be ready 
for a catastrophe at any moment." 

"But " began Percy. 

"You think that weak for an old man on the edge of 
the grave. Well, it is what I think. I see no hope. In 
fact, it seems to me that even now something may come on 
us quickly. No ; I see no hope until " 

Percy looked up sharply. 

"Until our Lord comes back," said the old statesman. 

Father Francis sighed once more, and there fell a silence. 

"And the fall of the Universities.''" said Percy at last. 

"My dear father, it was exactly like the fall of the 
Monasteries under Henry VIII — the same results, the same 
arguments, the same incidents. They were the strongholds 
of Individualism, as the Monasteries were the strongholds 
of Papalism ; and they were regarded with the same kind 
of awe and envy. Then the usual sort of remarks began 
about the amount of port wine drunk ; and suddenly people 
said that they had done their work, that the inmates were 
mistaking means for ends ; and there was a great deal more 
reason for saying it. After all, granted the supernatural. 
Religious Houses are an obvious consequence ; but the ob- 
ject of secular education is presumably the production of 



xxii THE PROLOGUE 

something visible — either character or competence; and it 
became quite impossible to prove that the Universities pro- 
duced either — which was worth having. The distinction 
between ov and jw^ is not an end in itself ; and the kind 
of person produced by its study was not one which ap- 
pealed to England in the twentieth century. I am not sure 
that it appealed even to me much (and I was always a 
strong Individualist) — except by way of pathos " 

"Yes.'"' said Percy. 

"Oh, it was pathetic enough. The Science Schools of 
Cambridge and the Colonial Department of Oxford were 
the last hope; and then those went. The old dons crept 
about with their books, but nobody wanted them — they were 
too purely theoretical; some drifted into the poorhouses, 
first or second grade; some were taken care of by chari- 
table clergymen ; there was that attempt to concentrate in 
Dublin ; but it failed, and people soon forgot them. The 
buildings, as you know, were used for all kinds of things. 
Oxford became an engineering establishment for a while, 
and Cambridge a kind of Government laboratory. I was 
at King's College, you know. Of course it was all as hor- 
rible as it could be — though I am glad they kept the chapel 
open even as a museum. It was not nice to see the chantries 
filled with anatomical specimens. However, I don't think it 
was much worse than keeping stoves and surplices in them.'* 

"What happened to you.'"' 

"Oh ! I was in Parliament very soon ; and I had a little 
money of my own, too. But it was very hard on some of 
them; they had little pensions, at least all who were past 
work. And yet, I don't know : I suppose it had to come. 
They were very little more than picturesque survivals, you 



THE PROLOGUE xxiil 

know ; and had not even the grace of a religious faith about 
them." 

Percy sighed again, looking at the humorously reminis- 
cent face of the old man. Then he suddenly changed the 
subject again. 

"What about this European parliament.?" he said. 

The old man started. 

"Oh! ... I think it will pass," he said, "if a man can 
be found to push it. All this last century has been leading 
up to it, as you see. Patriotism has been dying fast; but 
it ought to have died, like slavery and so forth, under the 
influence of the Catholic Church. As it is, the work has 
been done without the Church; and the result is that the 
world is beginning to range itself against us: it is an or- 
ganised antagonism — a kind of Catholic anti-Church. 
Democracy has done what the Divine Monarchy should 
have done. If the proposal passes I think we may expect 
something like persecution once more. . . . But, again, 
the Eastern invasion may save us, if it comes off. . . . 
I do not know. ..." 

Percy sat still yet a moment ; then he stood up suddenly. 

"I must go, sir," he said, relapsing into Esperanto. "It 
is past nineteen o'clock. Thank you so much. Are you 
coming, father?" 

Father Francis stood up also, in the dark grey suit per- 
mitted to priests, and took up his hat. 

"Well, father," said the old man again, "come again some 
day, if I haven't been too discursive. I suppose you have 
to write your letter yet?" 

Percy nodded. 

"I did half of it this morning," he said, "but I felt I 



xxiv THE PROLOGUE 

wanted another bird's-eye view before I could understand 
properly : I am so grateful to you for giving it me. It is 
really a great labour, this daily letter to the Cardinal- 
Protector. I am thinking of resigning if I am allowed." 

"My dear father, don't do that. If I may say so to your 
face, I think you have a very shrewd mind; and unless 
Rome has balanced information she can do nothing. I 
don't suppose your colleagues are as careful as yourself." 

Percy smiled, lifting his dark eyebrows deprecatingly. 

"Come, father," he said. 

The two priests parted at the steps of the corridor, and 
Percy stood for a minute or two staring out at the familiar 
autumn scene, trying to understand what it all meant. 
What he had heard downstairs seemed strangely to illumi- 
nate that vision of splendid prosperity that lay before him. 

The air was as bright as day ; artificial sunlight had car- 
ried all before it, and London now knew no difference be- 
tween dark and light. He stood in a kind of glazed clois- 
ter, heavily floored with a preparation of rubber on which 
footsteps made no sound. Beneath him, at the foot of 
the stairs, poured an endless double line of persons severed 
by a partition, going to right and left, noiselessly, except 
for the murmur of Esperanto talking that sounded cease- 
lessly as they went. Through the clear, hardened glass of 
the public passage showed a broad sleek black roadway, 
ribbed from side to side, and puckered in the centre, signifi- 
cantly empty, but even as he stood there a note sounded 
far away from Old Westminster, like the hum of a giant 
hive, rising as it came, and an instant later a transparent 
thing shot past, flashing from every angle, and the note 
died to a hum again and a silence as the great Government 



THE PROLOGUE xxv 

motor from the south whirled eastwards with the mails. 
This was a privileged roadway ; nothing but state-vehicles 
were allowed to use it, and those at a speed not exceeding 
one hundred miles an hour. 

Other noises were subdued in this city of rubber ; the pas- 
senger-circles were a hundred yards away, and the subter- 
ranean traffic lay too deep for anything but a vibration 
to make itself felt. It was to remove this vibration, and 
silence the hum of the ordinary vehicles, that the Govern- 
ment experts had been working for the last twenty years. 

Once again before he moved there came a long cry from 
overhead, startlingly beautiful and piercing, and, as he 
lifted his eyes from the glimpse of the steady river which 
alone had refused to be transformed, he saw high above 
him against the heavy illuminated clouds, a long slender 
object, glowing with soft light, slide northwards and vanish 
on outstretched wings. That musical cry, he told him- 
self, was the voice of one of the European line of volors an- 
nouncing its arrival in the capital of Great Britain. 

"Until our Lord comes back," he thought to himself; 
and for an instant the old misery stabbed at his heart. 
How difficult it was to hold the ej^es focussed on that far 
horizon when this world lay in the foreground so compel- 
ling in its splendour and its strength ! Oh, he had argued 
with Father Francis an hour ago that size was not the 
same as greatness, and that an insistent external could not 
exclude a subtle internal ; and he had believed what he had 
then said ; but the doubt yet remained till he silenced it by a 
fierce effort, crying in his heart to the Poor Man of Naza- 
reth to keep his heart as the heart of a little child. 

Then he set his lips, wondering how long Father Francis 
would bear the pressure, and went down the steps. 



BOOK I— THE ADVENT 



CHAPTER I 



Oliver Brand, the new member for Croydon (4), sat in his 
study, looking out of the window over the top of his type- 
writer. 

His house stood facing northwards at the extreme end of 
a spur of the Surrey Hills, now cut and tunnelled out of all 
recognition ; only to a Communist the view was an inspirit- 
ing one. Immediately below the wide windows the embanked 
ground fell away rapidly for perhaps a hundred feet, end- 
ing in a high wall, and beyond that the world and works of 
men were triumphant as far as eye could see. Two vast 
tracks like streaked race-courses, each not less than a quar- 
ter of a mile in width, and sunk twenty feet below the sur- 
face of the ground, swept up to a meeting a mile ahead at 
the huge junction. Of those, that on his left was the First 
Trunk road to Brighton, inscribed in capital letters in the 
Railroad Guide, that to the right the Second Trunk to the 
Tunbridge and Hastings district. Each was divided length- 
ways by a cement wall, on one side of which, on steel rails, 
ran the electric trams, and on the other lay the motor-track 
itself again divided into three, on which ran, first the Gov- 
ernment coaches at a speed of one hundred and fifty miles 
an hour, second the private motors at not more than sixty, 
third the cheap Government line at thirty, with stations 



2 LORD OF THE WORLD 

every five miles. This was further bordered by a road con- 
fined to pedestrians, cyclists and ordinary cars on which no 
vehicle was allowed to move at more than twelve miles an 
hour. 

Beyond these great tracks lay an immense plain of house- 
roofs, with short towers here and there marking public 
buildings, from the Caterham district on the left to Croydon 
in front, all clear and bright in smokeless air ; and far away 
to the west and north showed the low suburban hills against 
the April sky. 

There was surprisingly little sound, considering the pres- 
sure of the population ; and, with the exception of the buzz 
of the steel rails as a train fled north or south, and the oc- 
casional sweet chord of the great motors as they neared or 
left the junction, there was little to be heard in this study 
except a smooth, soothing murmur that filled the air like the 
murmur of bees in a garden. 

Oliver loved every hint of human life — all busy sights 
and sounds — and was listening now, smiling faintly to him- 
self as he stared out into the clear air. Then he set his lips, 
laid his fingers on the keys once more, and went on speech- 
constructing. 

He was very fortunate in the situation of his house. It 
stood in an angle of one of those huge spider-webs with 
which the country was covered, and for his purposes was all 
that he could expect. It was close enough to London to be 
extremely cheap, for all wealthy persons had retired at least 
a hundred miles from the throbbing heart of England ; and 
yet it was as quiet as he could wish. He was within ten 
minutes of Westminster on the one side, and twenty minutes 



THE ADVENT S 

of the sea on the other : and his constituency lay before hira 
like a raised map. Further, since the great London termini 
were but ten minutes away, there were at his disposal the 
First Trunk lines to every big town in England. For a 
politician of no great means, who was asked to speak at 
Edinburgh on one evening and in Marseilles on the next, 
he was as well placed as any man in Europe. 

He was a pleasant-looking man, not much over thirty 
years old ; black wire-haired, clean-shaven, thin, virile, mag- 
netic, blue-eyed and white-skinned; and he appeared this 
day extremely content with himself and the world. His 
lips moved slightly as he worked, his eyes enlarged and 
diminished with excitement, and more than once he paused 
and stared out again, smiling and flushed. 

Then a door opened ; a middle-aged man came nervously 
in with a bundle of papers, laid them down on the table 
without a word, and turned to go out. Oliver lifted his 
hand for attention, snapped a lever, and spoke. 

"Well, Mr. Phillips?" he said. 

"There is news from the East, sir," said the secretary. 

Oliver shot a glance sideways, and laid his hand on the 
bundle. 

"Any complete message.''" he asked. 

"No, sir; it is interrupted again. Mr. Felsenburgh's 
name is mentioned." 

Oliver did not seem to hear; he lifted the flimsy printed 
sheets with a sudden movement, and began turning them. 

"The fourth from the top, ^Ir. Brand," said the secretary. 

Oliver jerked his head impatiently, and the other went out 
as if at a signal. 

The fourth sheet from the top, printed in red on green. 



4 LORD OF THE WORLD 

seemed to absorb Oliver's attention altogether, for he read 
it through two or three times, leaning back motionless in 
his chair. Then he sighed, and stared again through the 
window. 

Then once more the door opened, and a tall girl came in. 

"Well, my dear?" she observed. 

Oliver shook his head, with compressed lips. 

"Nothing definite," he said. "Even less than usual. 
Listen." 

He took up the green sheet and began to read aloud as 
the girl sat down in a window-seat on his left. 

She was a very charming-looking creature, tall and slen- 
der, with serious, ardent grey eyes, firm red lips, and a 
beautiful carriage of head and shoulders. She had walked 
slowly across the room as Oliver took up the paper, and 
now sat back in her brown dress in a very graceful and 
stately attitude. She seemed to listen with a deliberate 
kind of patience ; but her eyes flickered with interest. 

" 'Irkutsk — April fourteen — Yesterday — as — usual — But 
— rumoured — defection — from — Sufi — party — Troops 
— continue — gathering — Felscnburgh — addressed — 
Buddhist — crowd — Attempt — on — Llama — last — 
Friday — work — of — Anarchists — Felsenburgh — 
leaving — for — Moscow — as — arranged — he. . . . ' 
There — that is absolutely all," ended Oliver dispiritedly. 
"It's interrupted as usual." 

The girl began to swing a foot. 

"I don't understand in the least," she said. "Who is 
Felsenburgh, after all?" 

"My dear child, that is what all the world is asking. 
Nothing is known except that he was included in the 



THE ADVENT 6 

American deputation at the last moment. The Herald 
pubhshed his life last week; but it has been contradicted. 
It is certain that he is quite a young man, and that he has 
been quite obscure until now." 

"Well, he is not obscure now," observed the girl. 

"I know; it seems as if he were running the whole thing. 
One never hears a word of the others. It's lucky he's on 
the right side." 

"And what do you think .'"' 

Oliver turned vacant eyes again out of the window. 

"I think it is touch and go," he said. "The only remark- 
able thing is that here hardly anybody seems to realise it. 
It's too big for the imagination, I suppose. There is no 
doubt that the East has been preparing for a descent on 
Europe for these last five years. They have only been 
checked by America ; and this is one last attempt to stop 
them. But why Felsenburgh should come to the front — " 
he broke off. "He must be a good linguist, at any rate. 
This is at least the fifth crowd he has addressed; perhaps 
he is just the American interpreter. Christ! I wonder 
who he is." 

"Has he any other name.f"' 

"Julian, I believe. One message said so." 

"How did this come through.'"' 

Oliver shook his head. 

"Private enterprise," he said. "The European agencies 
have stopped work. Every telegraph station is guarded 
night and day. There are lines of volors strung out on 
every frontier. The Empire means to settle this business 
without us." 

"And if it goes wrong.?" 



6 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"My dear Mabel — if hell breaks loose — " he threw out 
his hands deprecatingly. 

"And what is the Government doing?" 

"Working night and day ; so is the rest of Europe. It'll 
be Armageddon with a vengeance if it comes to war." 

"What chance do you see.''" 

"I see two chances," said Oliver slowly: "one, that they 
may be afraid of America, and may hold their hands from 
sheer fear ; the other that they may be induced to hold their 
hands from charity ; if only they can be made to understand 
that co-operation is the one hope of the world. But those 
damned religions of theirs " 

The girl sighed, and looked out again on to the wide 
plain of house-roofs below the window. 

The situation was indeed as serious as it could be. That 
huge Empire, consisting of a federalism of States under 
the Son of Heaven (made possible by the merging of the 
Japanese and Chinese dynasties and the fall of Russia), 
had been consolidating its forces and learning its own power 
during the last thirty-five years, ever since, in fact, it had 
laid its lean yellow hands upon Australia and India. While 
the rest of the world had learned the folly of war, ever since 
the fall of the Russian republic under the combined attack 
of the yellow races, the last had grasped its possibilities. 
It seemed now as if the civilisation of the last century was 
to be swept back once more into chaos. It was not that the 
mob of the East cared very greatly ; it was their rulers who 
had begun to stretch themselves after an almost eternal 
lethargy, and it was hard to imagine how they could be 
checked at this point. There was a touch of grimness too 
in the rumour that religious fanaticism was behind the 



THE ADVENT 7 

movement, and that the patient East proposed at last to 
proselytise by the modern equivalents of fire and sword 
those who had laid aside for the most part all religious 
beliefs except that in Humanity. To Oliver it was simply 
maddening. As he looked from his window and saw that 
vast limit of London laid peaceably before him, as his 
imagination ran out over Europe and saw everywhere that 
steady triumph of common sense and fact over the wild 
fairy-stories of Christianity, it seemed intolerable that 
there should be even a possibility that all this should be 
swept back again into the barbarous turmoil of sects and 
dogmas ; for no less than this would be the result if the 
East laid hands on Europe. Even Catholicism would re- 
vive, he told himself, that strange faith that had blazed so 
often as persecution had been dashed to quench it; and, 
of all forms of faith, to Oliver's mind Catholicism was the 
most grotesque and enslaving. And the prospect of all 
this honestly troubled him, far more than the thought of 
the physical catastrophe and bloodshed that would fall on 
Europe with the advent of the East. There was but one 
hope on the religious side, as he had told Mabel a dozen 
times, and that was that the Quietistic Pantheism which for 
the last century had made such giant strides in East and 
West alike, among Mohammedans, Buddhists, Hindus, 
Confucianists and the rest, should avail to check the super- 
natural frenzy that inspired their exoteric brethren. 
Pantheism, he understood, was what he held himself; for 
him "God" was the developing sum of created life, and 
impersonal Unity was the essence of His being; compe- 
tition then was the great heresy that set men one against 
another and delayed all progress ; for, to his mind, 



8 LORD OF THE WORLD 

progress lay in the merging of the individual in the family, 
of the family in the commonwealth, of the commonwealth in 
the continent, and of the continent in the world. Finally, 
the world itself at any moment was no more than the mood 
of impersonal life. It was, in fact, the Catholic idea with 
the supernatural left out, a union of earthly fortunes, an 
abandonment of individualism on the one side, and of super- 
naturalism on the other. It was treason to appeal from 
God Immanent to God Transcendent; there was no God 
transcendent ; God, so far as He could be known, was man. 
Yet these two, husband and wife after a fashion — for 
they had entered into that terminable contract now recog- 
nised explicitly by the State — these two were very far from 
sharing in the usual heavy dulness of mere materialists. 
The world, for them, beat with one ardent life blossoming 
in flower and beast and man, a torrent of beautiful vigour 
flowing from a deep source and irrigating all that moved 
or felt. Its romance was the more appreciable because it 
was comprehensible to the minds that sprang from it ; 
there were mysteries in it, but mysteries that enticed rather 
than baffled, for they unfolded new glories with every dis- 
covery that man could make; even inanimate objects, the 
fossil, the electric current, the far-off stars, these were dust 
thrown off^ by the Spirit of the World — fragrant with His 
Presence and eloquent of His Nature. For example, the 
announcement made by Klein, the astronomer, twenty years 
before, that the inhabitation of certain planets had become 
a certified fact — how vastly this had altered men's views 
of themselves. But the one condition of progress and the 
building of Jerusalem, on the planet that happened to be 
men's dwelling place, was peace, not the sword which Christ 



THE ADVENT 9 

brought or that which Mahomet wielded; but peace that 
arose from, not passed, understanding; the peace that 
sprang from a knowledge that man was all and was able 
to develop himself only by sympathy with his fellows. To 
Oliver and his wife, then, the last century seemed like a 
revelation ; little by little the old superstitions had died, 
and the new light broadened ; the Spirit of the World had 
roused Himself, the sun had dawned in the west ; and now 
with horror and loathing they had seen the clouds gather 
once more in the quarter whence all superstition had had its 
birth. 

Mabel got up presently and came across to her husband. 

"My dear," she said, "you must not be downhearted. It 
all may pass as it passed before. It is a great thing that 
they are listening to America at all. And this Mr. Felsen- 
burgh seems to be on the right side." 

Oliver took her hand and kissed it. 



II 



Oliver seemed altogether depressed at breakfast, half an 
hour later. His mother, an old lady of nearly eighty, who 
never appeared till noon, seemed to see it at once, for after 
a look or two at him and a word, she subsided into silence 
behind her plate. 

It was a pleasant little room in which they sat, immediately 
behind Oliver's own, and was furnished, according to uni- 
versal custom, in light green. Its windows looked out upon 
a strip of garden at the back, and the high creeper-grown 



10 LORD OF THE WORLD 

wall that separated that domain from the next. The furni- 
ture, too, was of the usual sort ; a sensible round table stood 
in the middle, with three tall arm-chairs, with the proper 
angles and rests, drawn up to it ; and the centre of it, rest- 
ing apparently on a broad round column, held the dishes. 
It was thirty years now since the practice of placing the 
dining-room above the kitchen, and of raising and lowering 
the courses by hydraulic power into the centre of the din- 
ing-table, had become universal in the houses of the well- 
to-do. The floor consisted entirely of the asbestos cork 
preparation invented in America, noiseless, clean, and pleas- 
ant to both foot and eye. 

Mabel broke the silence. 

"And your speech to-morrow?" she asked, taking up her 
fork. 

Oliver brightened a little, and began to discourse. 

It seemed that Birmingham was beginning to fret. They 
were crying out once more for free trade with America: 
European facilities were not enough, and it was Oliver's 
business to keep them quiet. It was useless, he proposed 
to tell them, to agitate until the Eastern business was set- 
tled: they must not bother the Government with such de- 
tails just now. He was to tell them, too, that the Govern- 
ment was wholly on their side ; that it was bound to come 
soon. 

"They are pig-headed," he added fiercely ; "pig-headed 
and selfish ; they are like children who cr}^ for food ten min- 
utes before dinner-time: it is bound to come if they will 
wait a little." 

"And you will tell them so ?" 

"That they are pig-headed? Certainly." 



THE ADVENT 11 

Mabel looked at her husband with a pleased twinkle in her 
eyes. She knew perfectly well that his popularity rested 
largely on his outspokenness : folks liked to be scolded and 
abused by a genial bold man who danced and gesticulated 
in a magnetic fury ; she liked it herself. 

"How shall you go?" she asked. 

"Volor. I shall catch the eighteen o'clock at Blackfriars ; 
the meeting is at nineteen, and I shall be back at twenty- 
one." 

He addressed himself vigorously to his entree, and his 
mother looked up with a patient, old-woman smile. 

Mabel began to drum her fingers softly on the damask. 

"Please make haste, my dear," she said ; "I have to be 
at Brighton at three." 

Oliver gulped his last mouthful, pushed his plate over the 
line, glanced to see if all plates were there, and then put 
his hand beneath the table. 

Instantl}'^, without a sound, the centre-piece vanished, and 
the three waited unconcernedly while the clink of dishes 
came from beneath. 

Old Mrs. Brand was a hale-looking old lady, rosy and 
wrinkled, with the mantilla head-dress of fifty years ago ; 
but she, too, looked a little depressed this morning. The 
entree was not very successful, she thought ; the new food- 
stuff was not up to the old, it was a trifle gritty : she would 
see about it afterwards. There was a clink, a soft sound 
like a push, and the centre-piece snapped into its place, 
bearing an admirable imitation of a roasted fowl. 

Oliver and his wife were alone again for a minute or two 
after breakfast before Mabel started down the path to 



12 LORD OF THE WORLD 

catch the 141/2 o'clock 4th grade sub-trunk line to the 
junction. 

"What's the matter with mother?" he said. 

"Oh ! it's the food-stuff again : she's never got accustomed 
to it ; she says it doesn't suit her." 

"Nothing else.?" 

"No, my dear, I am sure of it. She hasn't said a word 
lately." 

Oliver watched his wife go down the path, reassured. He 
had been a little troubled once or twice lately by an odd 
word or two that his mother had let fall. She had been 
brought up a Christian for a few years, and it seemed to 
him sometimes as if it had left a taint. There was an old 
"Garden of the Soul" that she liked to keep by her, though 
she always protested Avith an appearance of scorn that it 
was nothing but nonsense. Still, Oliver would have pre- 
ferred that she had burned it : superstition was a desperate 
thing for retaining life, and, as the brain weakened, might 
conceivably reassert itself. Christianity was both wild and 
dull, he told himself, wild because of its obvious grotesque- 
ness and impossibility, and dull because it was so utterly 
apart from the exhilarating stream of human life ; it crept 
dustily about still, he knew, in little dark churches here and 
there ; it screamed with hysterical sentimentality in West- 
minster Cathedral which he had once entered and looked 
upon with a kind of disgusted fury ; it gabbled strange, 
false words to the incompetent and the old and the half- 
witted. But it would be too dreadful if his own mother 
ever looked upon it again with favour. 

Oliver himself, ever since he could remember, had been 
violently opposed to the concessions to Rome and Ireland. 



THE ADVENT 18 

It was intolerable that these two places should be definitely 
yielded up to this foolish, treacherous nonsense: they were 
hot-beds of sedition ; plague-spots on the face of humanity. 
He had never agreed with those who said that it was better 
that all the poison of the West should be gathered rather 
than dispersed. But, at any rate, there it was. Rome had 
been given up wholly to that old man in white in exchange 
for all the parish churches and cathedrals of Italy, and it 
was understood that mediaeval darkness reigned there su- 
preme ; and Ireland, after receiving Home Rule thirty years 
before, had declared for Catholicism, and opened her arms 
to Individualism in its most virulent form. England had 
laughed and assented, for she was saved from a quantity of 
agitation by the immediate departure of half her Catholic 
population for that island, and had, consistently with her 
Communist-colonial policy, granted every facility for In- 
dividualism to reduce itself there ad absurdum. All kinds 
of funny things were happening there : Oliver had read with 
a bitter amusement of new appearances there, of a Woman 
in Blue and shrines raised where her feet had rested; but 
he was scarcely amused at Rome, for the movement to Turin 
of the Italian Government had deprived the Republic of 
quite a quantity of sentimental prestige, and had haloed 
the old religious nonsense with all the meretriciousness of 
historical association. However, it obviously could not last 
much longer: the world was beginning to understand at 
last. 

He stood a moment or two at the door after his wife had 
gone, drinking in reassurance from that glorious vision of 
solid sense that spread itself before his eyes: the endless 
house-roofs ; the high glass vaults of the public baths and 



14 LORD OF THE WORLD 

gymnasiums ; the pinnacled schools where Citizenship was 
taught each morning ; the spider-like cranes and scaffold- 
ings that rose here and there ; and even the few pricking 
spires did not disconcert him. There it stretched away into 
the grey haze of London, really beautiful, this vast hive 
of men and women who had learned at least the primary 
lesson of the gospel that there was no God but man, no 
priest but the politician, no prophet but the schoolmaster. 
Then he went back once more to his speech-constructing. 

Mabel, too, was a little thoughtful as she sat with her 
paper on her lap, spinning down the broad line to Brighton. 
This Eastern news was more disconcerting to her than she 
allowed her husband to see; yet it seemed incredible that 
there could be any real danger of invasion. This Western 
life was so sensible and peaceful ; folks had their feet at 
last upon the rock, and it was unthinkable that they could 
ever be forced back on to the mud-flats : it was contrary 
to the whole law of development. Yet she could not but 
recognise that catastrophe seemed one of nature's 
methods. . . . 

She sat very quiet, glancing once or twice at the meagre 
little scrap of news, and read the leading article upon it: 
that too seemed significant of dismay. A couple of men were 
talking in the half-compartment beyond on the same sub- 
ject; one described the Government engineering works that 
he had visited, the breathless haste that dominated them ; 
the other put in interrogations and questions. There was 
not much comfort there. There were no windows through 
which she could look ; on the main lines the speed was too 
great for the eyes ; the long compartment flooded with soft 



THE ADVENT 15 

light bounded her horizon. She stared at the moulded 
white ceiling, the delicious oak-framed paintings, the deep 
spring-seats, the mellow globes overhead that poured out 
radiance, at a mother and child diagonally opposite her. 
Then the great chord sounded ; the faint vibration increased 
ever so slightly ; and an instant later the automatic doors 
ran back, and she stepped out on to the platform of Brigh- 
ton station. 

As she went down the steps leading to the station square 
she noticed a priest going before her. He seemed a very 
upright and sturdy old man, for though his hair was white 
he walked steadily and strongly. At the foot of the steps 
he stopped and half turned, and then, to her surprise, she 
saw that his face Avas that of a young man, fine-featured 
and strong, with black eyebrows and very bright grey eyes. 
Then she passed on and began to cross the square in the 
direction of her aunt's house. 

Then without the slightest warning, except one shrill 
hoot from overhead, a number of things happened. 

A great shadow whirled across the sunlight at her feet, 
a sound of rending tore the air, and a noise like a giant's 
sigh; and, as she stopped bewildered, with a noise like ten 
thousand smashed kettles, a hufje thinn; crashed on the rub- 
ber pavement before her, where it lay, filling half the square, 
writhing long wings on its upper side that beat and whirled 
like the flappers of some ghastly extinct monster, pouring 
out human screams, and beginning almost instantly to crawl 
with broken life. 

Mabel scarcely knew what happened next ; but she found 
herself a moment later forced forward by some violent pres- 
sure from behind, till she stood shaking from head to foot, 



16 LORD OF THE WORLD 

with some kind of smashed body of a man moaning and 
stretching at her feet. There was a sort of articulate lan- 
guage coming from it ; she caught distinctly the names of 
Jesus and Mary ; then a voice hissed suddenly in her ears : 

"Let me through. I am a priest." 

She stood there a moment longer, dazed by the sudden- 
ness of the whole affair, and watched almost unintelligently 
the grey-haired young priest on his knees, with his coat 
torn open, and a crucifix out ; she saw him bend close, wave 
his hand in a swift sign, and heard a murmur of a language 
she did not know. Then he was up again, holding the 
crucifix before him, and she saw him begin to move forward 
into the midst of the red-flooded pavement, looking this 
way and that as if for a signal. Down the steps of the 
great hospital on her right came figures running now, hat- 
less, each carrying what looked like an old-fashioned 
camera. She knew what those men were, and her heart 
leaped in relief. They were the ministers of euthanasia. 
Then she felt herself taken by the shoulder and pulled back, 
and immediately found herself in the front rank of a crowd 
that was swaying and crying out, and behind a line of 
police and civilians who had formed themselves into a 
cordon to keep the pressure back. 



Ill 



Oliver was in a panic of terror as his mother, half an hour 
later, ran in with the news that one of the Government 
volors had fallen in the station square at Brighton just 
after the 14^ train had discharged its passengers. He 



THE ADVENT 17 

knew quite well what that meant, for he remembered one 
such accident ten years before, just after the law forbid- 
ding private volors had been passed. It meant that every 
living creature in it was killed and probably many more 
in the place where it fell — and what then? The message 
was clear enough ; she would certainly be in the square at 
that time. 

He sent a desperate wire to her aunt asking for news; 
and sat, shaking in his chair, awaiting the answer. His 
mother sat by him. 

"Please God — " she sobbed out once, and stopped con- 
founded as he turned on her. 

But Fate was merciful, and three minutes before Mr. 
Phillips toiled up the path with the answer, Mabel herself 
came into the room, rather pale and smiling. 

"Christ !" cried Oliver, and gave one huge sob as he 
sprang up. 

She had not a great deal to tell him. There was no ex- 
planation of the disaster published as yet; it seemed that 
the wings on one side had simply ceased to work. 

She described the shadow, the hiss of sound, and the crash. 
Then she stopped. 

"Well, my dear.'"' said her husband, still rather white be- 
neath the eyes as he sat close to her patting her hand. 

"There was a priest there," said Mabel. "I saw him be- 
fore, at the station." 

Oliver gave a little hysterical snort of laughter. 

"He was on his knees at once," she said, "with his crucifix, 
even before the doctors came. My dear, do people really 
believe all that.?" 

"Why, they think they do," said her husband. 



18 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"It was all so — so sudden ; and there he was, just as if he 
had been expecting it all. Oliver, how can they?" 

"Why, people will believe anything if they begin early 
enough." 

"And the man seemed to believe it, too — the dying man, 
I mean. I saw his eyes." 

She stopped. 

"Well, my dear?" 

"Oliver, what do you say to people when they are dying?" 

"Say! Why, nothing! What can I say? But I don't 
think I've ever seen any one die." 

"Nor have I till to-day," said the girl, and shivered a 
little. "The euthanasia people were soon at work." 

Oliver took her hand gently. 

"My darling, it must have been frightful. Why, you're 
trembling still." 

"No ; but listen. . . . You know, if I had had anything 
to say I could have said it too. They were all just in front 
of me : I wondered ; then I knew I hadn't. I couldn't pos- 
sibly have talked about Humanity." 

"My dear, it's all very sad ; but you know it doesn't really 
matter. It's all over." 

"And — and they've just stopped?" 

"Why, yes." 

Mabel compressed her lips a little ; then she sighed. She 
had an agitated sort of meditation in the train. She knew 
perfectly that it was sheer nerves; l*jt she could not just 
yet shake them off. As she had said, it was the first time 
she had seen death. 

"And that priest — that priest doesn't think so?" 

"My dear, I'll tell you what he believes. He believes that 



THE ADVENT 19 

that man whom he showed the crucifix to, and said those 
words over, is ahve somewhere, in spite of his brain being 
dead : he is not quite sure where ; but he is either in a kind 
of smelting works being slowly burned ; or, if he is very 
lucky, and that piece of wood took effect, he is somewhere 
beyond the clouds, before Three Persons who are only One 
although They are Three ; that there are quantities of other 
people there, a Woman in Blue, a great many others in 
white with their heads under their arms, and still more with 
their heads on one side ; and that they've all got harps and 
go on singing for ever and ever, and walking about on the 
clouds, and liking it very much indeed. He thinks, too, that 
all these nice people are perpetually looking down upon 
the aforesaid smelting-works, and praising the Three Great 
Persons for making them. That's what the priest believes. 
Now you know it's not likely ; that kind of thing may be 
very nice, but it isn't true." 

Mabel smiled pleasantly. She had never heard it put so 
well. 

"No, my dear, you're quite right. That sort of thing 
isn't true. How can he believe it.? He looked quite intelli- 
gent !" 

"My dear girl, if I had told you in your cradle that the 
moon was green cheese, and had hammered at you ever 
since, every day and all day, that it was, you'd very nearly 
believe it b}' now. Why, you know in your heart that the 
euthanatisers are the real priests. Of course you do." 

INJabel sighed with satisfaction and stood up. 

"Oliver, you're a most comforting person. I do like you ! 
There ! I must go to my room : I'm all shaky still." 

Half across the room she stopped and put out a shoe. 



20 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Why — " she began faintly. 

There was a curious rusty-looking splash upon it ; and her 
husband saw her turn white. He rose abruptly. 
"My dear," he said, "don't be fooHsh." 
She looked at him, smiled bravely, and went out. 

When she was gone, he still sat on a moment where she 
had left him. Dear me ! how pleased he was ! He did not 
like to think of what life would have been without her. He 
had known her since she was twelve — that was seven years 
ago — and last year they had gone together to the district 
official to make their contract. She had really become very 
necessary to him. Of course the world could get on without 
her, and he supposed that he could too ; but he did not want 
to have to try. He knew perfectly well, for it was his creed 
of human love, that there was between them a double affec- 
tion, of mind as well as body; and there was absolutely 
nothing else : but he loved her quick intuitions, and to hear 
his own thought echoed so perfectly. It was like two flames 
added together to make a third taller than either : of course 
one flame could burn without the other — in fact, one would 
have to, one day — but meantime the warmth and light were 
exhilarating. Yes, he was delighted that she happened to 
be clear of the falling volor. 

He gave no more thought to his exposition of the Chris- 
tian creed ; it was a mere commonplace to him that Catho- 
lics believed that kind of thing ; it was no more blasphemous 
to his mind so to describe it, than it would be to laugh at a 
Fijian idol with mother-of-pearl eyes, and a horse-hair 
wig ; it was simply impossible to treat it seriously. He, too, 
had wondered once or twice in his life how human beings 



THE ADVENT 21 

could believe such rubbish ; but psychology had helped him, 
and he knew now well enough that suggestion will do almost 
anything. And it was this hateful thing that had so long 
restrained the euthanasia movement with all its splendid 
mercy. 

His brows wrinkled a little as he remembered his mother's 
exclamation, "Please God" ; then he smiled at the poor old 
thing and her pathetic childishness, and turned once more 
to his table, thinking in spite of himself of his wife's hesi- 
tation as she had seen the splash of blood on her shoe. 
Blood! Yes; that was as much a fact as anything else. 
How was it to be dealt with.? Why, by the glorious creed 
of Humanity — that splendid God who died and rose again 
ten thousand times a day, who had died daily like the old 
cracked fanatic Saul of Tarsus, ever since the world began, 
and who rose again, not once like the Carpenter's Son, but 
with every child that came into the world. That was the 
ansM^er; and was it not overwhelmingly sufficient.? 

Mr. Phillips came in an hour later with another bundle 
of papers. 

"No more news from the East, sir," he said. 



CHAPTER II 



Percy Franklin's correspondence with the Cardinal- 
Protector of England occupied him directly for at least 
two hours every day, and for nearly eight hours indirectly. 

For the past eight years the methods of the Holy See 
had once more been revised with a view to modern needs, 
and now every important province throughout the world 
possessed not only an administrative metropolitan but a 
representative in Rome whose business it was to be in touch 
with the Pope on the one side and the people he represented 
on the other. In other words, centralisation had gone for- 
ward rapidly, in accordance with the laws of life; and, 
with centralisation, freedom of method and expansion of 
power. England's Cardinal-Protector was one Abbot 
Martin, a Benedictine, and it was Percy's business, as of a 
dozen more bishops, priests and la^'men (with whom, by 
the way, he was forbidden to hold an}^ formal consultation), 
to write a long daily letter to him on affairs that came 
under his notice. 

It was a curious life, therefore, that Pcrc}' kd. He had a 
couple of rooms assigned to him in Archbishop's House at 
Westminster, and was attaclied loosely to the Cathedral 
staff, although with considerable liberty. He rose early, 
and went to meditation for an hour, after which he said his 
mass. He took his coffee soon after, said a little office, and 
then settled down to map out his letter. At ten o'clock he 



THE ADVENT 23 

was ready to receive callers, and till noon he was generally 
busy with both those who came to see him on their own re- 
sponsibility and his staff of half-a-dozen reporters whose 
business it was to bring him marked paragraphs in the 
newspapers and their own comments. He then breakfasted 
with the other priests in the house, and set out soon after 
to call on people whose opinion was necessary, returning for 
a cup of tea soon after sixteen o'clock. Then he settled 
down, after the rest of his office and a visit to the Blessed 
Sacrament, to compose his letter, which though short, 
needed a great deal of care and sifting. After dinner he 
made a few notes for next day, received visitors again, and 
went to bed soon after twenty-two o'clock. Twice a week 
it was his business to assist at Vespers in the afternoon, 
and he usually sang high mass on Saturdays. 

It was, therefore, a curiously distracting life, with pe- 
culiar dangers. 

It was one day, a week or two after his visit to Brighton, 
that he was just finishing his letter, when his servant looked 
in to tell him that Father Francis was below. 

"In ten minutes," said Percy, without looking up. 

He snapped off his last lines, drew out the sheet, and 
settled down to read it over, translating it unconsciously 
from Latin to English. 

"Westminster, May 14th. 
"Eminence : Since yesterday I have a little more informa- 
tion. It appears certain that the Bill establishing Es- 
peranto for all State purposes will be brought in in June. 
I have had this from Johnson. This, as I have pointed out 
before, is the very last stone in our consolidation with the 
continent, which, at present, is to be regretted. ... A 
great access of Jews to Freemasonry is to be expected; 



M LORD OF THE WORLD 

hitherto they have held aloof to some extent, but the 
'abolition of the Idea of God' is tending to draw in those 
Jews, now greatly on the increase once more, who repudiate 
all notion of a personal Messiah. It is 'Humanity' here, 
too, that is at work. To-day I heard the Rabbi Simeon 
speak to this effect in the City, and was impressed by the ap- 
plause he received. . . . Yet among others an expectation 
is growing that a man will presently be found to lead the 
Communist movement and unite their forces more closely. 
I enclose a verbose cutting from the New People to that 
effect; and it is echoed everywhere. They say that the 
cause must give birth to one such soon ; that they have had 
prophets and precursors for a hundred years past, and 
lately a cessation of them. It is strange how this coin- 
cides superficially with Christian ideas. Your Eminence 
will observe that a simile of the 'ninth wave' is used with 
some eloquence. ... I hear to-day of the secession of an 
old Catholic family, the Wargraves of Norfolk, with their 
chaplain Micklem, who it seems has been busy in this direc- 
tion for some while. The Epoch announces it with satisfac- 
tion, owing to the peculiar circumstances ; but unhappily 
such events are not uncommon now. . . . There is much 
distrust among the laity. Seven priests in Westminster 
diocese have left us within the last three months; on the 
other hand, I have pleasure in telling your Eminence that 
his Grace received into Catholic Communion this morning 
the ex-Anglican Bishop of Carhsle, with half-a-dozen of 
his clergy. This has been expected for some weeks past. 
I append also cuttings from the Tribune, the London 
Trumpet, and the Observer, with my comments upon them. 
Your Eminence will see how great the excitement is with 
regard to the last. 

"Recommendation. That formal excommunication of the 
Wargraves and these eight priests should be issued in 
Norfolk and Westminster respectively, and no further 
notice taken." 



THE ADVENT 25 

Percy laid down the sheet, gathered up the half dozen 
other papers that contained his extracts and running com- 
mentary, signed the last, and slipped the whole into the 
printed envelope that lay ready. 

Then he took up his biretta and went to the lift. 

The moment he came into the glass-doored parlour he 
saw that the crisis was come, if not passed already. Father 
Francis looked miserably ill, but there was a curious hard- 
ness, too, about his eyes and mouth, as he stood waiting. 
He shook his head abruptly. 

"I have come to say good-bye, father. I can bear it no 
more." 

Percy was careful to show no emotion at all. He made a 
little sign to a chair, and himself sat down too. 

"It is an end of everything," said the other again in a per- 
fectly steady voice. "I believe nothing. I have believed 
nothing for a year now." 
"You have felt nothing, you mean," said Percy. 
"That won't do, father," went on the other. "I tell you 
there is nothing left. I can't even argue now. It is just 
good-bye." 

Percy had nothing to say. He had talked to this man 
during a period of over eight months, ever since Father 
Francis had first confided in him that his faith was going. 
He understood perfectly what a strain it had been ; he felt 
bitterly compassionate towards this poor creature who had 
become caught up somehow into the dizzy triumphant whirl 
of the New Humanity. External facts were horribly 
strong just now; and faith, except to one who had learned 
that Will and Grace were all and emotion nothing, was as 



26 LORD OF THE WORLD 

a child crawling about in the midst of some huge machinery : 
it might survive or it might not ; but it required nerves of 
steel to keep steady. It was hard to know where blame 
could be assigned ; yet Percy's faith told him that there was 
blame due. In the ages of faith a very inadequate grasp 
of religion would pass muster ; in these searching days none 
but the humble and the pure could stand the test for long, 
unless indeed the}' were protected by a miracle of ignorance. 
The alliance of Psychology and Materialism did indeed 
seem, looked at from one angle, to account for everything ; it 
needed a robust supernatural perception to understand their 
practical inadequacy. And as regards Father Francis's per- 
sonal responsibility, he could not help feeling that the other 
had allowed ceremonial to play too great a part in his re- 
ligion, and prayer too little. In him the external had ab- 
sorbed the internal. 

So he did not allow his sympathy to show itself in his 
bright eyes. 

"You think it my fault, of course," said the other sharply. 

"My dear father," said Percy, motionless in his chair, "I 
know it is your fault. Listen to me. You say Christianity 
is absurd and impossible. Now, you know, it cannot be 
that ! It may be untrue — I am not speaking of that now, 
even though I am perfectly certain that it is absolutely 
true — but it cannot be absurd so long as educated and vir- 
tuous people continue to hold it. To say that it is absurd 
is simple pride ; it is to dismiss all who believe in it as not 
merely mistaken, but unintelHgent as well " 

"Very well, then," interrupted the other; "tlicn suppose 
I withdraw that, and simply say that I do not believe it to 
be true." 



THE ADVENT 27 

"You do not withdraw it," continued Percy serenely ; "you 
still really believe it to be absurd: you have told me so a 
dozen times. Well, I repeat, that is pride, and quite suffi- 
cient to account for it all. It is the moral attitude that 
matters. There may be other things too " 

Father Francis looked up sharply. 

"Oh ! the old story !" he said sneeringly. 

"If you tell me on your word of honour that there is no 
woman in the case, or no particular programme of sin you 
propose to work out, I shall believe you. But it is an old 
story, as you say." 

"I swear to you there is not," cried the other. 

"Thank God then !" said Percy. "There are fewer ob- 
stacles to a return of faith." 

There was silence for a moment after that. Percy had 
really no more to say. He had talked to him of the inner 
life again and again, in which verities are seen to be true, 
and acts of faith are ratified ; he had urged prayer and hu- 
mility till he was almost weary of the names ; and had been 
met by the retort that this was to advise sheer self-hypnot- 
ism ; and he had despaired of making clear to one who 
did not see it for himself that while Love and Faith may 
be called self-hypnotism from one angle, yet from another 
they are as much realities as, for example, artistic faculties, 
and need similar cultivation ; that they produce a conviction 
that they are convictions, that they handle and taste things 
which when handled and tasted are overwhelmingly more 
real and objective than the things of sense. Evidences 
seemed to mean nothing to this man. 

So he was silent now, chilled himself by the presence of 
this crisis, looking unseeingly out upon the plain, little old- 



28 LORD OF THE WORLD 

world parlour, its tall window, its strip of matting, con- 
scious chiefly of the dreary hopelessness of this human 
brother of his who had eyes but did not see, ears and was 
deaf. He wished he would say good-bye, and go. There 
was no more to be done. 

Father Francis, who had been sitting in a lax kind of 
huddle, seemed to know his thoughts, and sat up suddenly. 

"You are tired of me," he said. "I will go." 

"I am not tired of you, my dear father," said Percy 
simply. "I am only terribly sorry. You see I know that it 
is all true." 

The other looked at him heavily. 

"And I know that it is not," he said. "It is very beauti- 
ful ; I wish I could believe it. I don't think I shall be ever 
happy again — but — but there it is." 

Percy sighed. He had told him so often that the heart 
is as divine a gift as the mind, and that to neglect it in 
the search for God is to seek ruin, but this priest had 
scarcely seen the application to himself. He had answered 
with the old psychological arguments that the suggestions 
of education accounted for everything. 

"I suppose you will cast me off," said the other. 

"It is you who are leaving me," said Percy. "I cannot fol- 
low, if you mean that." 

"But — but cannot we be friends.''" 

A sudden heat touched the elder priest's heart. 

"Friends?" he said. "Is sentimentality all you mean by 
friendship? What kind of friends can we be?" 

The other's face became suddenly heavy. 

"I thought so." 

"John!" cried Percy. "You see that, do you not? How 



THE ADVENT 29 

can we pretend anything when you do not believe in God? 
For I do you the honour of thinking that you do not." 

Francis sprang up. 

"Well — " he snapped. "I could not have believed — I am 
going." 

He wheeled towards the door. 

"John !" said Percy again. "Are you going like this ? 
Can you not shake hands.?" 

The other wheeled again, with heavy anger in his face. 

"Why, you said you could not be friends with me 1" 

Percy's mouth opened. Then he understood, and smiled. 

"Oh ! that is all you mean by friendship, is it.'' — I beg your 
pardon. Oh ! we can be polite to one another, if you like." 

He still stood holding out his hand. Father Francis 
looked at it a moment, his lips shook: then once more he 
turned, and went out without a word. 



II 



Percy stood motionless until he heard the automatic bell 
outside tell him that Father Francis was really gone, then 
he went out himself and turned towards the long passage 
leading to the Cathedral. As he passed out through the 
sacristy he heard far in front the murmur of an organ, and 
on coming through into the chapel used as a parish church 
he perceived that Vespers were not yet over in the great 
choir. He came straight down the aisle, turned to the right, 
crossed the centre and knelt down. 

It was drawing on towards sunset, and the huge dark 
place was lighted here and there by patches of ruddy Lon- 



30 LORD OF THE WORLD 

don light that lay on the gorgeous marble and gildings fin- 
ished at last by a wealthy convert. In front of him rose 
up the choir, with a line of white surpliccd and furred 
canons on either side, and the vast baldachino in the midst, 
beneath which burned the six lights as they had burned day 
by day for more than a century ; behind that again lay 
the high line of the apse-choir with the dim, window- 
pierced vault above where Christ reigned in majesty. He 
let his eyes wander round for a few moments before begin- 
ning his deliberate prayer, drinking in the glory of the 
place, listening to the thunderous chorus, the peal of the 
organ, and the thin mellow voice of the priest. There on 
the left shone the refracted glow of the lamps that burned 
before the Lord in the Sacrament, on the right a dozen 
candles winked here and there at the foot of the gaunt 
images, high overhead hung the gigantic cross with that 
lean, emaciated Poor Man Who called all who looked on 
Him to the embraces of a God. 

Then he hid his face in his hands, drew a couple of long 
breaths, and set to work. 

He began, as his custom was in mental prayer, by a de- 
liberate act of self-exclusion from the world of sense. Un- 
der the image of sinking beneath a surface he forced him- 
self downwards and inwards, till the peal of the organ, the 
shuffle of footsteps, the rigidity of the chair-back beneath 
his wrists — all seemed apart and external, and he was left 
a single person with a beating heart, an intellect that sug- 
gested image after image, and emotions that were too lan- 
guid to stir themselves. Then he made his second descent, 
renounced all that he possessed and was, and became con- 
scious that even the body was left behind, and that his mind 



THE ADVENT 31 

and heart, awed by the Presence in which they found them- 
selves, ching close and obedient to the will which was their 
lord and protector. He drew another long breath, or two, 
as he felt that Presence surge about him ; he repeated a few 
mechanical words, and sank to that peace which follows the 
relinquishment of thought. 

There he rested for a while. Far above him sounded the 
ecstatic music, the cry of trumpets and the shrilling of the 
flutes ; but they were as insignificant street-noises to one 
who was falling asleep. He was within the veil of things 
now, beyond the barriers of sense and reflection, in that 
secret place to which he had learned the road by endless 
eff'ort, in that strange region where realities are evident, 
where perceptions go to and fro with the swiftness of light, 
where the swaying will catches now this, now that act, 
moulds it and speeds it ; where all things meet, where truth 
is known and handled and tasted, where God Immanent is 
one with God Transcendent, where the meaning of the ex- 
ternal world is evident through its inner side, and the 
Church and its mysteries are seen from within a haze of 
glory. 

So he lay a few moments, absorbing and resting. 

Then he aroused himself to consciousness and began to 
speak. 

"Lord, I am here, and Thou art here. I know Thee. 
There is nothing else but Thou and I. ... I lay this all 
in Thy hands — Thy apostate priest, Thy people, the world, 
and myself. I spread it before Thee — I spread it before 
Thee." 

He paused, poised in the act, till all of which he thought 
lay like a plain before a peak. 



32 LORD OF THE WORLD 

, . . "Myself, Lord — there but for Thy grace should I 
be going, in darkness and misery. It is Thou Who dost 
preserve me. Maintain and finish Thy work within my soul. 
Let me not falter for one instant. If Thou withdraw Thy 
hand I fall into utter nothingness." 

So his soul stood a moment, with outstretched appealing 
hands, helpless and confident. Then the will flickered in 
self-consciousness, and he repeated acts of faith, hope and 
love to steady it. Then he drew another long breath, feel- 
ing the Presence tingle and shake about him, and began 
again. 

"Lord; look on Thy people. Many are falling from 
Thee. A^^ in oeternum irascaris nobis. Ne in (Eternum iras- 
caris nobis. ... I unite myself with all saints and angels 
and Mary Queen of Heaven ; look on them and me, and hear 
us. Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam. Thy light and 
Thy truth ! Lay not on us heavier burdens than we can 
bear. Lord, why dost Thou not speak !" 

He writhed himself forward in a passion of expectant de- 
sire, hearing his muscles crack in the effort. Once more 
he relaxed himself ; and the swift play of wordless acts be- 
gan which he knew to be the very heart of prayer. The 
eyes of his soul flew hither and thither, from Calvary to 
heaven and back again to the tossing troubled earth. He 
saw Christ dying of desolation while the earth rocked and 
groaned ; Christ reigning as a priest upon His Throne in 
robes of light, Christ patient and inexorably silent within 
the Sacramental species ; and to each in turn he directed 
the eyes of the Eternal Father. . . . 

Then he waited for communications, and they came, so 
soft and delicate, passing like shadows, that his will 



THE ADVENT 33 

sweated blood and tears in the effort to catch and fix them 
and correspond. . . . 

He saw the Body Mystical in its agony, strained over the 
world as on a cross, silent with pain ; he saw this and that 
nerve wrenched and twisted, till pain presented it to him- 
self as under the guise of flashes of colour ; he saw the life- 
blood drop by drop run down from His head and hands and 
feet. The world was gathered mocking and good-humoured 
beneath. "He saved others: Himself He cannot save. . . . 
Let Christ come down from the Cross and we will believe." 
Far away behind bushes and in holes of the ground the 
friends of Jesus peeped and sobbed; Mary herself was 
silent, pierced by seven swords ; the disciple whom He loved 
had no words of comfort. 

He saw, too, how no word would be spoken from heaven ; 
the angels themselves were bidden to put sword into sheath, 
and wait on the eternal patience of God, for the agony was 
hardly yet begun ; there were a thousand horrors yet be- 
fore the end could come, that final sum of crucifixion. . . . 
He must wait and watch, content to stand there and do 
nothing; and the Resurrection must seem to him no more 
than a dreamed-of hope. There was the Sabbath yet to 
come, while the Body Mystical must lie in its sepulchre cut 
off from light, and even the dignity of the Cross must be 
withdrawn and the knowledge that Jesus lived. That inner 
world, to which by long effort he had learned the way, was 
all alight with agony ; it was bitter as brine, it was of that 
pale luminosity that is the utmost product of pain, it 
hummed in his ears with a note that rose to a scream . . . 
it pressed upon him, penetrated him, stretched him as on a 
rack. . . . And with that his will grew sick and nerveless. 



34. LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Lord ! I cannot bear it !" he moaned. . . . 

In an instant he was back again, drawing long breaths 
of misery. He passed his tongue over his hps, and opened 
his eyes on the darkening apse before him. The organ was 
silent now, and the choir was gone, and the lights out. The 
sunset colour, too, had faded from the walls, and grim cold 
faces looked down on him from wall and vault. He was 
back again on the surface of life; the vision had melted; 
he scarcely knew what it was that he had seen. 

But he must gather up the threads, and by sheer effort ab- 
sorb them. He must pay his duty, too, to the Lord that 
gave Himself to the senses as well as to the inner spirit. So 
he rose, stiff and constrained, and passed across to the 
Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. 

As he came out from the block of chairs, very upright and 
tall, with his biretta once more on his white hair, he saw an 
old woman watching him very closely. He hesitated an in- 
stant, wondering whether she were a penitent, and as he 
hesitated she made a movement towards him. 

"I beg your pardon, sir," she began. 

She was not a Catholic then. He lifted his biretta. 

"Can I do anything for you?" he asked. 

"I beg your pardon, sir, but were you at Brighton, at 
the accident two months ago.^^" 

"I was." 

"Ah! I thought so: my daughter-in-law saw you 
then." 

Percy had a spasm of impatience : he was a little tired of 
being identified by his white hair and young face. 

"Were you there, madam ?" 

She looked at him doubtfully and curiously, moving her 



THE ADVENT 35 

old eyes up and down his figure. Then she recollected 
herself, 

"No, sir ; it was my daughter-in-law — I beg your pardon, 
sir, but " 

"Well?" asked Percy, trying to keep the impatience out 
of his voice. 

"Are you the Archbishop, sir?" 

The priest smiled, showing his white teeth. 

"No, madam; I am just a poor priest. Dr. Cholmondeley 
is Archbishop. I am Father Percy Franklin." 

She said nothing, but still looking at him made a little 
old-world movement of a bow ; and Percy passed on to the 
dim, splendid chapel to pay his devotions. 



Ill 



There was great talk that night at dinner among the 
priests as to the extraordinary spread of Freemasonry. It 
had been going on for many years now, and Catholics per- 
fectly recognised its dangers, for. the profession of 
Masonry had been for some centuries rendered incompatible 
with religion through the Church's unswerving condemna- 
tion of it. A man must choose between that and his faith. 
Things had developed extraordinarily during the last cen- 
tur3\ First there had been the organised assault upon the 
Church in France ; and what Catholics had always suspected 
then became a certainty in the revelations of 1918, when 
P. Gerome, the Dominican and ex-Mason, had made his 
disclosures with regard to the INIark-Masons. It had be- 
come evident then that Catholics had been right, and that 



36 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Masonry, In its higher grades at least, had been responsible 
throughout the world for the strange movement against re- 
ligion. But he had died in his bed, and the public had 
been impressed by that fact. Then came the splendid dona- 
tions in France and Italy — to hospitals, orphanages, and 
the like ; and once more suspicion began to disappear. 
After all, it seemed — and continued to seem — for seventy 
years and more that Masonry was nothing more than a vast 
philanthropical society. Now once more men had their 
doubts. 

"I hear that Felsenburgh is a Mason," observed Mon- 
signor Macintosh, the Cathedral Administrator. "A 
Grand-Master or something." 

"But who is Felsenburgh?" put In a young priest. 

Monsignor pursed his lips and shook his head. He was 
one of those humble persons as proud of ignorance as others 
of knowledge. He boasted that he never read the papers 
nor any book except those that had received the imprimatur; 
It was a priest's business, he often remarked, to preserve the 
faith, not to acquire worldly knowledge. Percy had oc- 
casionally rather envied his point of view. 

"He's a mystery," said another priest. Father Blackmore ; 
"but he seems to be causing great excitement. They were 
selling his 'Life' to-day on the Embankment." 

"I met an American senator," put in Percy, "three days 
ago, who told me that even there they know nothing of 
him, except his extraordinary eloquence. He only appeared 
last year, and seems to have carried everything before him 
by quite unusual methods. He is a great linguist, too. 
That is why they took him to Irkutsk." 

"Well, the Masons — " went on Monsignor. "It is very 



THE ADVENT 37 

serious. In the last month four of my penitents have left 
me because of it." 

"Their inclusion of women was their master-stroke," 
growled Father Blackmore, helping himself to claret. 

"It Is extraordinary that they hesitated so long about 
that," observed Percy. 

A couple of the others added their evidence. It appeared 
that they, too, had lost penitents lately through the spread 
of Masonry. It was rumoured that a Pastoral was a-pre- 
paring upstairs on the subject. 

Monsignor shook his head ominously. 

"More is wanted than that," he said. 

Percy pointed out that the Church had said her last word 
several centuries ago. She had laid her excommunication 
on all members of secret societies, and there was really no 
more that she could do. 

"Except bring it before her children again and again," 
put in Monsignor. "I shall preach on it next Sunday." 

Percy dotted down a note when he reached his room, de- 
termining to say another word or two on the subject to 
the Cardinal-Protector. He had mentioned Freemasonry 
often before, but it seemed time for another remark. Then 
he opened his letters, first turning to one which he recog- 
nised as from the Cardinal. 

It seemed a curious coincidence, as he read a series of 
questions that Cardinal Martin's letter contained, that one 
of them should be on this very subject. It ran as follows: 

"What of Masonry ? Felsenburgh is said to be one. 
Gather all the gossip you can about him. Send any Eng- 



38 LORD OF THE WORLD 

lish or American biographies of him. Are you still losing 
Catholics through Masonry?" 



He ran his eyes down the rest of the questions. They 
chiefly referred to previous remarks of his own, but twice, 
even in them, Felsenburgh's name appeared. 

He laid the paper down and considered a little. 

It was very curious, he thought, how this man's name was 
in every one's mouth, in spite of the fact that so little was 
known about him. He had bought in the streets, out of 
curiosity, three photographs that professed to represent this 
strange person, and though one of them might be genuine 
they all three could not be. He drew them out of a pigeon- 
hole, and spread them before him. 

One represented a fierce, bearded creature like a Cossack, 
with round staring eyes. No ; intrinsic evidence condemned 
this: it was exactly how a coarse imagination would have 
pictured a man who seemed to be having a great influence 
in the East. 

The second showed a fat face with little eyes and a chin- 
beard. That might conceivably be genuine: he turned it 
over and saw the name of a New York firm on the back. 
Then he turned to the third. This presented a long, clean- 
shaven face with pince-nez, undeniably clever, but scarcely 
strong: and Felsenburgh was obviously a strong man. 

Percy inclined to think the second was the most probable ; 
but they were all unconvincing; and he shuffled them care- 
lessly together and replaced them. 

Then he put his elbows on the table, and began to think. 

He tried to remember what Mr. Varhaus, the American 
senator, had told him of Felsenburgh ; yet it did not seem 



THE ADVENT 39 

sufficient to account for the facts. Felsenburgh, it seemed, 
had employed none of those methods common in modem 
politics. He controlled no newspapers, vituperated no- 
body, championed nobody : he had no picked underlings ; 
he used no bribes ; there were no monstrous crimes alleged 
against him. It seemed rather as if his originality lay in 
his clean hands and his stainless past — that, and his mag- 
netic character. He was the kind of figure that belonged 
rather to the age of chivalry : a pure, clean, compelling per- 
sonality, like a radiant child. He had taken people by 
surprise, then, rising out of the heaving dun-coloured 
waters of American socialism like a vision — from those 
waters so fiercely restrained from breaking into storm ever 
since the extraordinary social revolution under Mr. Hearst's 
disciples, a century ago. That had been the end of 
plutocracy; the famous old laws of 1914 had burst some 
of the stinking bubbles of the time ; and the enactments of 
1916 and 1917 had prevented their forming again in any- 
thing like their previous force. It had been the salvation 
of America, undoubtedly, even if that salvation were of a 
dreary and uninspiring description ; and now out of the 
flat socialistic level had arisen this romantic figure utterly 
unlike any that had preceded it. . . . So the senator had 
hinted. ... It was too complicated for Percy just now, 
and he gave it up. 

It was a weary world, he told himself, turning his eyes 
homewards. Everything seemed so hopeless and ineffective. 
He tried not to reflect on his fellow-priests, but for the 
fiftieth time he could not help seeing that they were not the 
men for the present situation. It was not that he preferred 
himself; he knew perfectly well that he, too, was fully as 



40 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Incompetent : had he not proved to be so with poor Father 
Francis, and scores of others who had clutched at him in 
their agony during the last ten years? Even the Arch- 
bishop, holy man as he was, with all his childlike faith — was 
that the man to lead English Catholics and confound their 
enemies? There seemed no giants on the earth in these 
days. What in the world was to be done? He buried his 
face in his hands. . . . 

Yes ; what was wanted was a new Order in the Church ; the 
old ones were rule-bound through no fault of their own. 
An Order was wanted without habit or tonsure, without 
traditions or customs, an Order with nothing but entire 
and whole-hearted devotion, without pride even in their 
most sacred privileges, without a past history in which they 
might take complacent refuge. They must be franc- 
t'vreurs of Christ's Army ; like the Jesuits, but without their 
fatal reputation, which, again, was no fault of their own. 
. . . But there must be a Founder — Who, in God's Name? 
— a Founder nudus sequens Christum nudum. . . . Yes — 
Franc-tireurs — priests, bishops, laymen and women — with 
the three vows of course, and a special clause forbidding 
utterly and for ever their ownership of corporate wealth. — 
Every gift received must be handed to the bishop of the 
diocese in which it was given, who must provide them him- 
self with necessaries of life and travel. Oh ! — what could 
they not do? . . . He was off in a rhapsody. 

Presently he recovered, and called himself a fool. Was 
not that scheme as old as the eternal hills, and as useless for 
practical purposes? Why, it had been the dream of every 
zealous man since the First Year of Salvation that such 
an Order should be founded! . . . Pie was a fool. . . . 



THE ADVENT 41 

Then once more he began to think of it all over 
again. 

Surely it was this which was wanted against the Masons ; 
and women, too. — Had not scheme after scheme broken 
down because men had forgotten the power of women? It 
was that lack that had ruined Napoleon: he had trusted 
Josephine, and she had failed him; so he had trusted no 
other woman. In the Catholic Church, too, woman had 
been given no active work but either menial or connected 
with education: and was there not room for other activi- 
ties than those.'' Well, it was useless to think of it. It was 
not his affair. If Papa Angelicus who now reigned in 
Rome had not thought of it, why should a foolish, conceited 
priest in Westminster set himself up to do so? 

So he beat himself on the breast once more, and took up 
his office-book. 

He finished in half an hour, and again sat thinking; but 
this time it was of poor Father Francis. He wondered what 
he was doing now; whether he had taken off the Roman 
collar of Christ's familiar slaves? The poor devil! And 
how far was he, Percy Franklin, responsible? 

When a tap came at his door presently, and Father 
Blackmore looked in for a talk before going to bed, Percy 
told him what had happened. 

Father Blackmore removed his pipe and sighed deliber- 
ately. 

"I knew it was coming," he said. "Well, well." 

"He has been honest enough," explained Percy. "He told 
me eight months ago he was in trouble." 

Father Blackmore drew upon his pipe thoughtfully. 

"Father Franklin," he said, "things are really very serious. 



42 LORD OF THE WORLD 

There is the same story everywhere. What In the world is 
happening?" 

Percy paused before answering. 

"I think these things go in waves," he said. 

"Waves, do you think.''" said the other. 

"What else.?" 

Father Blackmore looked at him intently. 

"It is more Hke a dead calm, it seems ib me," he said. 
"Have you ever been in a typhoon.''" 

Percy shook his head. 

"Well," went on the other, "the most ominous thing is 
the calm. The sea is like oil; you feel half-dead: you 
can do nothing. Then comes the storm." 

Percy looked at him, interested. He had not seen this 
mood in the priest before. 

"Before every great crash there comes this calm. It is 
always so in history. It was so before the Eastern War; 
it was so before the French Revolution. It was so before 
the Reformation. There is a kind of oily heaving; and 
everything is languid. So everything has been in America, 
too, for over eighty years. . . . Father Franklin, I think 
something is going to happen." 

"Tell me," said Percy, leaning forward. 

"Well, I saw Templcton a week before he died, and he 
put the idea in my head. . , . Look here, father. It may 
be this Eastern affair that is coming on us ; but somehow 
I don't think it is. It is in religion that something is 
going to happen. At least, so I think. . . . Father, who in 
God's name is Fclsenburgh .?" 

Percy was so startled at the sudden introduction of this 
name again, that he stared a moment without speaking. 



THE ADVENT 43 

Outside, the summer night was very still. There was 
a faint vibration now and again from the underground 
track that ran twenty yards from the house where they 
sat ; but the streets were quiet enough round the Cathedral. 
Once a hoot rang far away, as if some ominous bird of 
passage were crossing between London and the stars, and 
once the cry of a woman sounded thin and shrill from the 
direction of the river. For the rest there was no more than 
the solemn, subdued hum that never ceased now night or 
day. 

"Yes ; Felsenburgh," said Father Blackmore once more. 
"I cannot get that man out of my head. And yet, what 
do I know of him ? What does any one know of him ?" 

Percy licked his lips to answer, and drew a breath to still 
the beating of his heart. He could not imagine why he 
felt excited. After all, who was old Blackmore to frighten 
him.'* But old Blackmore went on before he could speak. 

"See how people are leaving the Church! The War- 
graves, the Hendersons, Sir James Bartlet, Lady Magnier^ 
and then all the priests. Now they're not all knaves — I 
wish they were ; it would be so much easier to talk of it. 
But Sir James Bartlet, last month ! Now, there's a man 
who has spent half his fortune on the Church, and he 
doesn't resent it even now. He says that any religion is 
better than none, but that, for himself, he just can't be- 
lieve any longer. Now what does all that mean? . . . 
I tell you something is going to happen. God knows what ! 
And I can't get Felsenburgh out of my head. . . . Father 
Franklin " 

"Yes?" 

"Have you noticed how few great men we've got? It's 



44 LORD OF THE WORLD 

not like fifty years ago, or even thirty. Then there were 
Mason, Sclborne, Sherbrook, and half-a-dozen others. 
There was Brightman, too, as Archbishop : and now ! Then 
the Communists, too. Braithwaite is dead fifteen years. 
Certainly he was big enough ; but he was always speaking 
of the future, not of the present ; and tell me what big man 
they have had since then ! And now there's this new man, 
whom no one knows, who came forward in America a few 
months ago, and whose name is in every one's mouth. Very 
well, then !" 

Percy knitted his forehead. 

"I am not sure that I understand," he said. 

Father Blackmore knocked his pipe out before answering. 

"Well, this," he said, standing up. "I can't help thinking 
Felsenburgh is going to do something. I don't know what ; 
it may be for us or against us. But he is a Mason, remem- 
ber that. . . . Well, well; I dare say I'm an old fool. 
Good-night." 

"One mom^t, father," said Percy slowly. "Do you 
mean — ? Good Lord ! What do you mean.'"' He stopped, 
looking at the other. 

The old priest stared back under his bushy eyebrows ; it 
seemed to Percy as if he, too, were afraid of something in 
spite of his easy talk ; but he made no sign. 

Percy stood perfectly still a moment when the door was 
shut. Then he moved across to his prie-dieu. 



CHAPTER III 



Old Mrs. Brand and Mabel were seated at a window of 
the new Admiralty Offices in Trafalgar Square to see Oliver 
deliver his speech on the fiftieth anniversary of the passing 
of the Poor Laws Reform. 

It was an inspiriting sight, this bright June morning, to 
see the crowds gathering round Braithwaite's statue. That 
politician, dead fifteen years before, was represented in his 
famous attitude, with arms outstretched and down dropped, 
his head up and one foot slightly advanced, and to-day 
was decked, as was becoming more and more usual on such 
occasions, in his Masonic insignia. It was he who had given 
immense impetus to that secret movement by his declaration 
in the House that the key of future progress and brother- 
hood of nations was in the hands of the Order. It was 
through this alone that the false unity of the Church with 
its fantastic spiritual fraternity could be counteracted. 
St. Paul had been right, he declared, in his desire to break 
down the partition-walls between nations, and wrong only 
in his exaltation of Jesus Christ. Thus he had preluded his 
speech on the Poor Law question, pointing to the true 
charity that existed among Masons apart from religious 
motive, and appealing to the famous benefactions on the 
Continent ; and in the enthusiasm of the Bill's success the 
Order had received a great accession of members. 

Old Mrs. Brand was in her best to-day, and looked out 



46 LORD OF THE WORLD 

with considerable excitement at the huge tlirong gathered 
to hear her son speak. A pktform was erected round the 
bronze statue at such a height that the statesman appeared 
to be one of the speakers, though at a shghtly higher 
elevation, and this platform was hung with roses, sur- 
mounted by a sounding-board, and set with a chair and 
table. 

The whole square round about was paved with heads and 
resonant with sound, the murmurs of thousands of voices, 
overpowered now and again by the crash of brass and thun- 
der of drums as the Benefit Societies and democratic 
Guilds, each headed by a banner, deployed from North, 
South, East and West, and converged towards the wide 
railed space about the platform where room was reserved 
for them. The windows on every side were packed with 
faces ; tall stands were erected along the front of the Na- 
tional Gallery and St. Martin's Church, garden-beds of 
colour behind the mute, white statues that faced outwards 
round the square, from Braithwaite in front, past the Vic- 
torians — John Davidson, John Bums, and the rest — round 
to Hampden and de Montfort towards the north. The old 
column was gone, with its lions. Nelson had not been 
found advantageous to the Entente Cordiale, nor the lions 
to the new art ; and in their place stretched a wide pavement 
broken by slopes of steps that led up to the National Gal- 
lery. Overhead the roofs showed crowded friezes of heads 
against the blue summer sky. Not less than one hundred 
thousand persons, it was estimated in the evening papers, 
were collected within sight and sound of the platform by 
noon. 

As the clocks began to tell the hour, two figures appeared 



THE ADVENT 47 

from behind the statue and came forward, and, in an in- 
stant, the murmurs of talk rose into cheering. 

Old Lord Pemberton came first, a grey-haired, upright 
man, whose father had been active in denouncing the House 
of which he was a member on the occasion of its fall over 
seventy years ago, and his son had succeeded him worthily. 
This man was now a member of the Government, and sat 
for Manchester (3) ; and it was he who was to be chairman 
on this auspicious occasion. Behind him came Oliver, bare- 
headed and spruce, and even at that distance his mother 
and wife could see his brisk movement, his sudden smile and 
nod as his name emerged from the storm of sound that 
surged round the platform. Lord Pemberton came for- 
ward, lifted his hand and made a signal; and in a moment 
the thin cheering died under the sudden roll of drums be- 
neath that preluded the Masonic Hymn. 

There was no doubt that these Londoners could sing. It 
was as if a giant voice hummed the sonorous melody, ris- 
ing to enthusiasm till the music of massed bands followed 
it as a flag follows a flag-stick. The hymn was one com- 
posed ten years before, and all England was familiar with 
it. Old Mrs. Bland lifted the printed paper mechanically 
to her eyes, and saw the words that she knew so well : 

"The Lord that dwells in earth and sea" . . . 

She glanced down the verses, that from the Humanitarian 
point of view had been composed with both skill and ardour. 
They had a religious ring ; the unintelligent Christian could 
sing them without a qualm ; yet their sense was plain enough 
— the old human creed that man was all. Even Christ's 



48 LORD OF THE WORLD 

words themselves were quoted. The kingdom of God, it 
was said, lay within the human heart, and the greatest of 
all graces was Charity. 

She glanced at Mabel, and saw that the girl was singing 
with all her might, with her eyes fixed on her husband's 
dark figure a hundred yards away, and her soul pouring 
through them. So the mother, too, began to move her 
lips in chorus with that vast volume of sound. 

As the hymn died away, and before the cheering could 
begin again, old Lord Pembcrton was standing forward 
on the edge of the platform, and his thin, metallic voice 
piped a sentence or two across the tinkling splash of the 
fountains behind him. Then he stepped back, and Oliver 
came forward. 

It was too far for the two to hear what was said, but 
Mabel slipped a paper, smiling tremulously, into the old 
lady's hand, and herself bent forward to listen. 

Old Mrs. Brand looked at that, too, knowing that it was 
an analysis of her son's speech, and aware that she would 
not be able to hear his words. 

There was an exordium first, congratulating all who were 
present to do honour to the great man who presided from 
his pedestal on the occasion of this great anniversary. 
Then there came a retrospect, comparing the old state of 
England with the present. Fifty years ago, the speaker 
said, poverty was still a disgrace, now it was so no longer. 
It was in the causes that led to poverty that the disgrace 
or the merit lay. Who would not honour a man worn out 
in the service of his country, or overcome at last b}' circum- 
stances against which his efforts could not prevail.'' . . . 



THE ADVENT 49 

He enumerated the reforms passed fifty years before on 
this very day, by which the nation once and for all declared 
the glory of poverty and man's sympathy with the un- 
fortunate. 

So he had told them he was to sing the praise of patient 
poverty and its reward, and that, he supposed, together 
with a few periods on the reform of the prison laws, would 
form the first half of his speech. 

The second part was to be a panegyric of Braithwaite, 
treating him as the Precursor of a movement that even now 
had begun. 

Old Mrs. Brand leaned back in her seat, and looked about 
her. 

The window where they sat had been reserved for them ; 
two arm-chairs filled the space, but immediately behind there 
were others, standing very silent now, craning forward, 
watching, too, with parted lips : a couple of women with an 
old man directly behind, and other faces visible again be- 
hind them. Their obvious absorption made the old lady 
a little ashamed of her distraction, and she turned reso- 
lutely once more to the square. 

Ah ! he was working up now to his panegyric ! The tiny 
dark figure was back, a yard nearer the statue, and as she 
looked, his hand went up and he wheeled, pointing, as a 
murmur of applause drowned for an instant the minute, 
resonant voice. Then again he was forward, half crouch- 
ing — for he was a born actor — and a storm of laughter 
rippled round the throng of heads. She heard an indrawn 
hiss behind her chair, and the next instant an exclamation 
from Mabel. . . . What was that.? 

There was a sharp crack, and the tiny gesticulating fig- 



60 LORD OF THE WORLD 

ure staggered back a step. The old man at the table was 
up in a moment, and simultaneously a violent commotion 
bubbled and heaved like water about a rock at a point in 
the crowd immediately outside the railed space where the 
bands were massed, and directly opposite the front of the 
platform. 

Mrs. Brand, bewildered and dazed, found herself standing 
up, clutching the window rail, while the girl gripped her, 
crying out something she could not understand. A great 
roaring filled the square, the heads tossed this way and that, 
like corn under a squall of wind. Then Oliver was forward 
again, pointing and crying out, for she could see his ges- 
tures ; and she sank back quickly, the blood racing through 
her old veins, and her heart hammering at the base of her 
throat. 

"My dear, my dear, what is it?" she sobbed. 

But Mabel was up, too, staring out at her husband ; and 
a quick babble of talk and exclamations from behind made 
itself audible in spite of the roaring tumult of the square. 



II 



Oliver told them the explanation of the whole affair that 
evening at home, leaning back in his chair, with one arm 
bandaged and in a sling. 

They had not been able to get near him at the time; 
the excitement in the square had been too fierce ; but a mes- 
senger had come to his wife with the news that her husband 
was only slightly wounded, and was in the hands of the 
doctors. 



THE ADVENT 61 

"He was a Catholic," explained the drawn-faced Oliver. 
"He must have come ready, for his repeater was found 
loaded. Well, there was no chance for a priest this time." 

Mabel nodded slowly: she had read of the man's fate on 
the placards. 

"He was killed — trampled and strangled instantly," said 
Oliver. "I did what I could: you saw me. But — well, I 
dare say it was more merciful." 

"But you did what you could, my dear?" said the old 
lady, anxiously, from her comer. 

"I called out to them, mother, but they wouldn't hear me." 

Mabel leaned forward 

"Oliver, I know this sounds stupid of me ; but — but I wish 
they had not killed him." 

Oliver smiled at her. He knew this tender trait in her. 

"It would have been more perfect if they had not," she 
said. Then she broke off and sat back. 

"Why did he shoot just then?" she asked. 

Oliver turned his eyes for an instant towards his mother, 
but she was knitting tranquilly. 

Then he answered with a curious deliberateness. 

"I said that Braithwaite had done more for the world by 
one speech than Jesus and all His saints put together." 
He was aware that the knitting-needles stopped for a 
second; then they went on again as before. 

"But he must have meant to do it anyhow," continued 
Oliver. 

"How do they know he was a Catholic?" asked the girl 
again. 

"There was a rosary on him; and then he just had time 
to call on his God." 



52 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"And nothing more is known?" 
"Nothing more. He was well dressed, though." 
Oliver leaned back a little wearily and closed his eyes ; 
his arm still throbbed intolerably. But he was very happy 
at heart. It was true that he had been wounded by a 
fanatic, but he was not sorry to bear pain in such a cause, 
and it was obvious that the sympathy of England was with 
him. Mr. Phillips even now was busy in the next room, 
answering the telegrams that poured in every moment. 
Caldecott, the Prime Minister, Maxwell, Snowford and a 
dozen others had Avircd instantly their congratulations, and 
from every part of England streamed in message after mes- 
sage. It was an immense stroke for the Communists ; their 
spokesman had been assaulted during the discharge of his 
duty, speaking in defence of his principles ; it was an in- 
calculable gain for them, and loss for the Individualists, 
that confessors were not all on one side after all. The huge 
electric placards over London had winked out the facts in 
Esperanto as Oliver stepped into the train at twilight. 

"Oliver Brand wounded. . . . Catholic assailant. . . . 
Indignation of the country. . . . Well-deserved fate of 
assassin." 

He was pleased, too, that he honestly had done his best 
to save the man. Even in that moment of sudden and acute 
pain he had cried out for a fair trial ; but he had been too 
late. He had seen the starting e^'cs roll up in the crimson 
face, and the horrid grin come and go as the hands had 
clutched and torn at his throat. Then the face had van- 
ished and a heavy trampling began where it had disap- 



THE ADVENT 63 

peared. Oh! there was some passion and loyalty left in 
England ! 

His mother got up presently and went out, still without 
a word ; and Mabel turned to him, laying a hand on his 
knee. 

"Are you too tired to talk, my dear?" 

He opened his eyes. 

"Of course not, my darling. What is it.?" 

"What do you think will be the effect?" 

He raised himself a little, looking out as usual through 
the darkening windows on to that astonishing view. 
Everywhere now lights were glowing, a sea of mellow moons 
just above the houses, and above the mysterious heavy blue 
of a summer evening. 

"The effect?" he said. "It can be nothing but good. It 
was time that something happened. My dear, I feel very 
downcast sometimes, as you know. Well, I do not think 
I shall be again. I have been afraid sometimes that we 
were losing all our spirit, and that the old Tories were 
partly right when they prophesied what Communism would 
do. But after this " 

"Well?" 

"Well; we have shown that we can shed our blood too. 
It is in the nick of time, too, just at the crisis. I don't 
want to exaggerate ; it is only a scratch — but it was so de- 
liberate, and — and so dramatic. The poor devil could not 
liave chosen a worse moment. People won't forget it." 

Mabel's eyes shone with pleasure. 

"You poor dear!" she said. "Are you in pain?" 

"Not much. Besides, Christ! what do I care? If only 
this infernal Eastern affair would end!" 



54 LORD OF THE WORLD 

He knew he was feverish and irritable, and made a great 
effort to drive it down. 

"Oh, my dear!" he went on, flushed a Httle. "If they 
would not be such heavy fools : they don't understand ; they 
don't understand." 

"Yes, Oliver.?" 

"They don't understand what a glorious thing it all is: 
Humanity, Life, Truth at last, and the death of Folly! 
But haven't I told them a hundred times?" 

She looked at him with kindling eyes. She loved to see 
him like this, his confident, flushed face, the enthusiasm in 
his blue eyes ; and the knowledge of his pain pricked her 
feeling with passion. She bent forward and kissed him 
suddenly. 

"My dear, I am so proud of you. Oh, Oliver !" 

He said nothing; but she could see what she loved to see, 
that response to her own heart ; and so they sat in silence 
while the sky darkened yet more, and the click of the 
writer in the next room told them that the world was alive 
and that they had a share in its aff'airs. 

Oliver stirred presently. 

"Did you notice anything just now, sweetheart — when I 
said that about Jesus Christ?" 

"She stopped knitting for a moment," said the girl. 

He nodded. 

"You saw that too, then. . . . INIabel, do you think she 
is falling back?" 

"Oh ! she is getting old," said the girl lightly. "Of course 
she looks back a little." 

"But you don't think — it would be too awful !" 

She shook her head. 



THE ADVENT 65 

*'No, no, my dear; you're excited and tired. It's just a 
little sentiment. . . . Oliver, I don't think I would say 
that kind of thing before her." 

"But she hears it everywhere now." 

"No, she doesn't. Remember she hardly ever goes out. 
Besides, she hates it. After all, she was brought up a 
Catholic." 

Oliver nodded, and lay back again, looking dreamily out. 

"Isn't it astonishing the way in which suggestion lasts .f* 
She can't get it out of her head, even after fifty years. 
Well, watch her, won't you.'' . . . By the way ..." 

"Yes.?" 

"There's a little more news from the East. They say 
Felsenburgh's running the whole thing now. The Empire 
is sending him everywhere — Tobolsk, Benares, Yakutsk — 
everywhere ; and he's been to Australia." 

Mabel sat up briskly. 

"Isn't that very hopeful?" 

"I suppose so. There's no doubt that the Sufis are win- 
ning; but for how long is another question. Besides, the 
troops don't disperse." 

"And Europe.?" 

"Europe is arming as fast as possible. I hear we are to 
meet the Powers next week at Paris. I must go." 

"Your arm, my dear?" 

"My arm must get well. It will have to go with me, any- 
how." 

"Tell me some more." 

"There is no more. But it is just as certain as it can be 
that this is the crisis. If the East can be persuaded to hold 
its hand now, it will never be likely to raise it again. It will 



56 LORD OF THE WORLD 

mean free trade all over the world, I suppose, and all that 
kind of thing. But if not " 

"Well?" 

"If not, there will be a catastrophe such as never has been 
even imagined. The whole human race will be at war, and 
either East or West will be simply wiped out. These new 
Benninschein explosives will make certain of that." 

"But is it absolutely certain that the East has got them.?" 

"Absolutely. Benninschein sold them simultaneously to 
East and West; then he died, luckily for him." 

Mabel had heard this kind of talk before, but her imagina- 
tion simply refused to grasp it. A duel of East and West 
under these new conditions was an unthinkable thing. 
There had been no European war within living memory, 
and the Eastern wars of the last century had been under the 
old conditions. Now, if tales were true, entire towns would 
be destroyed with a single shell. The new conditions were 
unimaginable. Military experts prophesied extravagantly, 
contradicting one another on vital points ; the whole pro- 
cedure of war was a matter of theory; there were no 
precedents with which to compare it. It was as if 
archers disputed as to the results of cordite. Only one 
thing was certain — that the East had every modern engine, 
and, as regards male population, half as much again as 
the rest of the world put together; and the conclusion 
to be drawn from these premisses was not reassuring to 
England. 

But imagination simply refused to speak. The daily 
papers had a short, careful leading article every day, 
founded upon the scraps of news that stole out from the 
conferences on the other side of the world; Felsenburgh's 



THE ADVENT 57 

name appeared more frequently than ever: otherwise there 
seemed to be a kind of hush. Nothing suffered very much ; 
trade went on ; European stocks were not appreciably lower 
than usual; men still built houses, married wives, begat 
sons and daughters, did their business and went to the 
theatre, for the mere reason that there was no good in 
anything else. They could neither save nor precipitate 
the situation ; it was on too large a scale. Occasionally 
people went mad — people who had succeeded in goading 
their imagination to a height whence a glimpse of reality 
could be obtained ; and there was a diffused atmosphere of 
tenseness. But that was all. Not many speeches were 
made on the subject ; it had been found inadvisable. After 
all, there was nothing to do but to wait. 



Ill 



Mabel remembered her husband's advice to watch, and for 
a few days did her best. But there was nothing that 
alarmed her. The old lady was a little quiet, perhaps, but 
went about her minute affairs as usual. She asked the girl 
to read to her sometimes, and listened unblenching to what- 
ever was offered her ; she attended in the kitchen daily, or- 
ganised varieties of food, and appeared interested in all 
that concerned her son. She packed his bag with her own 
hands, set out his furs for the swift flight to Paris, and 
waved to him from the window as he went down the little 
path towards the junction. He would be gone three days, 
he said. 



68 LORD OF THE WORLD 

It was on the evening of the second day that she fell ill; 
and Mabel, running upstairs, in alarai at the message of 
the servant, found her rather flushed and agitated in her 
chair. 

"It is nothing, my dear," said the old lady tremulously ; 
and she added the description of a symptom or two. 

Mabel got her to bed, sent for the doctor, and sat down 
to wait. 

She was sincerely fond of the old lady, and had always 
found her presence in the house a quiet sort of delight. The 
effect of her upon the mind was as that of an easy-chair 
upon the body. The old lady was so tranquil and human, 
so absorbed in small external matters, so reminiscent now 
and then of the days of her youth, so utterly without re- 
sentment or peevishness. It seemed curiously pathetic to 
the girl to watch that quiet old spirit approach its extinc- 
tion, or rather, as Mabel believed, its loss of personality 
in the reabsorption into the Spirit of Life which informed 
the world. She found less difficulty in contemplating the 
end of a vigorous soul, for in that case she imagined a kind 
of energetic rush of force back into the origin of things ; 
but in this peaceful old lady there was so little energy ; 
her whole point, so to speak, lay in the delicate little fabric 
of personality, built out of fragile things into an entity far 
more significant than the sum of its component parts: the 
death of a flower, reflected Mabel, is sadder than the death 
of a lion ; the breaking of a piece of china more irreparable 
than the ruin of a palace. 

"It is syncope," said the doctor when he came in. "She 
may die at any time ; she may live ten years." 

"There is no need to telegraph for Mr. Brand.''" 



THE ADVENT 59 

He made a little deprecating movement with his hands. 

"It is not certain that she will die — it is not imminent?" 
she asked. 

"No, no ; she may live ten years, I said." 

He added a word or two of advice as to the use of the 
oxygen injector, and went away. 

The old lady was lying quietly in bed, when the girl went 
up, and put out a wrinkled hand. 

"Well, my dear.?" she asked. 

"It is just a little weakness, mother. You must lie quiet 
and do nothing. Shall I read to you?" 

"No, my dear ; I will think a little." 

It was no part of Mabel's idea to duty to tell her that she 
was in danger, for there was no past to set straight, no 
Judge to be confronted. Death was an ending, not a be- 
ginning. It was a peaceful Gospel; at least, it became 
peaceful as soon as the end had come. 

So the girl went downstairs once more, with a quiet little 
ache at her heart that refused to be still. 

What a strange and beautiful thing death was, she told 
herself — this resolution of a chord that had hung sus- 
pended for thirty, fifty or seventy years — back again into 
the stillness of the huge Instrument that was all in all to 
itself. Those same notes would be struck again, were being 
struck again even now all over the world, though with an 
infinite delicacy of difference in the touch; but that par- 
ticular emotion was gone : it was foolish to think that it was 
sounding eternally elsewhere, for there was no elsewhere. 
She, too, herself would cease one day, let her see to it that 
the tone was pure and lovely. 



60 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Mr. Phillips arrived the next morning as usual, just as 
Mabel had left the old lady's room, and asked news of her. 

"She is a little better, I think," said Mabel. "She must 
be very quiet all day." 

The secretary bowed and turned aside into Oliver's room, 
where a heap of letters lay to be answered. 

A couple of hours later, as Mabel went upstairs once more, 
she met Mr. Phillips coming down. He looked a little 
flushed under his sallow skin. 

"Mrs. Brand sent for me," he said. "She wished to know 
whether Mr. Oliver would be back to-night." 

"He will, will he not,? You have not heard .'^" 

"Mr. Brand said he would be here for a late dinner. He 
will reach London at nineteen." 

"And is there any other news."^" 

He compressed his lips. 

"There are rumours," he said. "Mr. Brand wired to me 
an hour ago." 

He seemed moved at something, and Mabel looked at him 
in astonishment. 

"It is not Eastern news.?" she asked. 

His eyebrows wrinkled a little. 

"You must forgive me, Mrs. Brand," he said. "I am not 
at liberty to say anything." 

She was not offended, for she trusted her husband too 
well ; but she went on into the sick-room with her heart 
beating. 

The old lady, too, seemed excited. She lay In bed with a 
clear flush in her white cheeks, and hardly smiled at all to 
the girl's greeting. 

"Well, you have seen Mr. Phillips, then?" said Mabel. 



THE ADVENT 61 

Old Mrs. Brand looked at her sharply an instant, but said 
nothing. 

"Don't excite yourself, mother. Oliver will be back to- 
night." 

The old lady drew a long breath. 

"Don't trouble about me, my dear," she said. "I shall 
do very well now. He will be back to dinner, will he not.'"' 

"If the volor is not late. Now, mother, are you ready for 
breakfast .?" 

Mabel passed an afternoon of considerable agitation. It 
was certain that something had happened. The secretary, 
who breakfasted with her in the parlour looking on to the 
garden, had appeared strangely excited. He had told her 
that he would be away the rest of the day : Mr. Oliver had 
given him his instructions. He had refrained from all dis- 
cussion of the Eastern question, and he had given her no 
news of the Paris Convention ; he only repeated that Mr. 
Oliver would be back that night. Then he had gone off in 
a hurry half-an-hour later. 

The old lady seemed asleep when the girl went up after- 
wards, and Mabel did not like to disturb her. Neither did 
she like to leave the house; so she walked by herself in the 
garden, thinking and hoping and fearing, till the long 
shadow lay across the path, and the tumbled platform of 
roofs was bathed in a dusty green haze from the west. 

As she came in she took up the evening paper, but there 
was no news there except to the effect that the Convention 
would close that afternoon. 

Twenty o'clock came, but there was no sign of Ohver. 



62 LORD OF THE WORLD 

The Paris volor should have arrived an hour before, but 
IMabel, staring out into the darkening heavens had seen 
the stars come out Hke jewels one by one, but no slender 
winged fish pass overhead. Of course she might have missed 
it ; there was no depending on its exact course ; but she had 
seen it a hundred times before, and wondered unreasonably 
why she had not seen it now. But she would not sit down to 
dinner, and paced up and down in her white dress, turning 
again and again to the window, listening to the soft rush 
of the trains, the faint hoots from the track, and the musi- 
cal chords from the junction a mile away. The lights were 
up by now, and the vast sweep of the towns looked like 
fairyland between the earthly light and the heavenly dark- 
ness. Why did not Oliver come, or at least let her know 
why he did not-f* 

Once she went upstairs, miserably anxious herself, to re- 
assure the old lady, and found her again very drowsy. 

"He is not come," she said. "I dare say he may be kept 
in Paris." 

The old face on the pillow nodded and murmured, and 
Mabel went down again. It was now an hour after dinner- 
time. 

Oh ! there were a hundred things that might have kept him. 
He had often been later than this: he might have missed 
the volor he meant to catch ; the Convention might have 
been prolonged ; he might be exhausted, and think it better 
to sleep in Paris after all, and have forgotten to wire. He 
might even have wired to Mr. Phillips, and the secretary 
have forgotten to pass on the message. 

She went at last, hopelessly, to the telephone, and looked 
at it. There it was, that round silent mouth, that little row 



THE ADVENT 63 

of labelled buttons. She half decided to touch them one by 
one, and inquire whether anything had been heard of her 
husband: there was his club, his office in Whitehall, ]Mr. 
Phillips's house. Parliament-house, and the rest. But she 
hesitated, telling herself to be patient. Oliver hated inter- 
ference, and he would surely soon remember and relieve 
her anxiety. 

Then, even as she turned away, the bell rang sharply, and 
a white label flashed into sight. — Whitehall. 

She pressed the corresponding button, and, her hand 
shaking so much that she could scarcely hold the receiver to 
her ear, she listened. 

"Who is there?" 

Her heart leaped at the sound of her husband's voice, 
tiny and minute across the miles of wire. 

"I — Mabel," she said. "Alone here." 

"Oh ! Mabel. Very well. I am back : all is well. Now 
listen. Can you hear.?" 

"Yes, yes." 

"The best has happened. It is all over in the East. Fel- 
senburgh has done it. Now listen. I cannot come home 
to-night. It will be announced in Paul's House in two 
hours from now. We are communicating with the Press. 
Come up here to me at once. You must be present. . . . 
Can you hear.?" 

"Oh, yes." 

"Come then at once. It will be the greatest thing in his- 
tory. Tell no one. Come before the rush begins. In 
half-an-hour the way will be stopped." 

"Oliver." 

"Yes? Quick." 



64 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Mother is ill. Shall I leave her?" 
"How ill?" 

"Oh, no immediate danger. The doctor has seen her." 
There was silence for a moment. 

"Yes ; come then. We will go back to-night anyhow, then. 
Tell her we shall be late." 
"Very well." 
"... Yes, you must come. Felsenburgh will be there." 



CHAPTER IV 



On the same afternoon Percy received a visitor. 

There was nothing exceptional about him ; and Percy, as 
he came downstairs in his walking-dress and looked at him 
in the light from the tall parlour-window, came to no con- 
clusion at all as to his business and person, except that 
he was not a Catholic. 

"You wished to see me," said the priest, indicating a chair. 
"I fear I must not stop long." 

"I shall not keep you long," said the stranger eagerly. 
"My business is done in five minutes." 

Percy waited with his eyes cast down. 

"A — a certain person has sent me to you. She was a 
Catholic once ; she wishes to return to the Church." 

Percy made a little movement with his head. It was a 
message he did not very often receive in these days. 

"You will come, sir, Avill you not? You will promise me.''" 

The man seemed greatly agitated; his sallow face showed 
a little shining with sweat, and his eyes were piteous. 

"Of course I will come," said Perc}', smiling. 

"Yes, sir; but you do not know who she is. It — it would 
make a great stir, sir, if it was known. It must not be 
known, sir; you will promise me that, too?" 

"I must not make any promise of that kind," said the 
priest gently. "I do not know the circumstances yet." 

The stranger licked his lips nervously. 



66 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Well, sir," he said hastily, "you will say nothing till 
you have seen her? You can promise me that." 

"Oh ! certainly," said the priest. 

"Well, sir, you had better not know my name. It — it may 
make it easier for you and for me. And — and, if you 
please, sir, the lady is ill; you must come to-day, if you 
please, but not until the evening. Will twenty-two o'clock 
be convenient, sir?" 

"Where is it?" asked Percy abruptly. 

"It — it is near Croydon junction. I will write down 
the address presently. And you will not come until twenty- 
two o'clock, sir?" 

"Why not now?" 

"Because the — the others may be there. They will be 
away then ; I know that." 

This was rather suspicious, Percy thought: discreditable 
plots had been known before. But he could not refuse out- 
right. 

"Why does she not send for her parish-priest?" he asked. 

"She — she does not know who he is, sir; she saw you once 
in the Cathedral, sir, and asked you for your name. Do 
you remember, sir.^* — an old lady?" 

Percy did dimly remember something of the kind a 
month or two before ; but he could not be certain, and 
said so. 

"Well, sir, you will come, will you not?" 

"I must communicate with Father Dolan," said the priest. 
"If he gives me permission " 

"If you please, sir. Father — Father Dolan must not know 
her name. You will not tell him?" 

"I do not know it myself yet," said the priest, smiling. 



THE ADVENT 67 

The stranger sat back abruptly at that, and his face 
worked. 

"Well, sir, let me tell you this first. This old lady's son 
is my employer, and a very prominent Communist. She 
lives with him and his wife. The other two will be away 
to-night. That is why I am asking you all this. And now, 
you will come, sir.'"' 

Percy looked at him steadily for a moment or two. Cer- 
tainly, if this was a conspiracy, the conspirators were feeble 
folk. Then he answered: 

"I will come, sir ; I promise. Now the name." 

The stranger again licked his lips nervously, and glanced 
timidly from side to side. Then he seemed to gather his 
resolution ; he leaned forward and whispered sharply. 

"The old lady's name is Brand, sir — the mother of Mr. 
Oliver Brand." 

For a moment Percy was bewildered. It was too extraordi- 
nary to be true. He knew Mr. Oliver Brand's name only 
too well ; it was he who, by God's permission, was doing 
more in England at this moment against the Catholic cause 
than any other man alive ; and it was he whom the Trafalgar 
Square incident had raised into such eminent popularity. 
And now, here was his mother 

He turned fiercely upon the man. 

"I do not know what you are, sir — whether you believe in 
God or not ; but will you swear to me on your religion and 
your honour that all this is true?" 

The timid e3'es met his, and wavered ; but it was the waver- 
ing of weakness, not of treachery. 

"I — I swear it, sir; by God Almighty." 

"Are you a Cathohc?" 



68 LORD OF THE WORLD 

The man shook his head. 

"But I believe in Gcd," he said. "Ah least, I think so." 

Percy leaned back, trying to realise exactly what it all 
meant. There Mas no triumph In his mind — that kind of 
emotion was not his weakness ; there was fear of a kind, 
excitement, bewilderment, and under all a satisfaction that 
God's grace was so sovereign. If It could reach this woman, 
who could be too far removed for It to take effect? Pres- 
entl}' he noticed the other looking at him anxiously. 

"You are afraid, sir.'* You are not going back from your 
promise .f"' 

That dispersed the cloud a little, and Percy smiled. 

"Oh ! no," he said. "I will be there at twenty-two o'clock. 
... Is death imminent?" 

"No, sir; it is syncope. She is recovered a little this 
morning." 

The priest passed his hand over his eyes and stood up. 

"Well, I will be there," he said. "Shall you be there, sir?" 

The other shook his head, standing up too. 

"I must be with Mr. Brand, sir; there is to be a meeting 
to-night ; but I must not speak of that. . . . No, sir ; ask 
for Mrs. Brand, and say that she is expecting you. They 
will take you upstairs at once." 

"I must not say I am a priest, I suppose?" 

"No, sir ; If you please." 

He drew out a pocket-book, scribbled In it a moment, tore 
out the sheet, and handed It to the priest. 

"The address, sir. Will you kindly destroy that when 3'ou 
have copied It? I — I do not wish to lose my place, sir, if 
It can be helped." 

Percy stood twisting the paper in his fingers a moment. 



THE ADVENT 69 

"Why are you not a Catholic yourself?" he asked. 
The man shook his head mutely. Then he took up his hat, 
and went towards the door. 

Percy passed a very emotional afternoon. 

For the last month or two little had happened to encour- 
age him. He had been obliged to report half-a-dozen more 
significant secessions, and hardly a conversion of any kind. 
There was no doubt at all that the tide was setting steadily 
against the Church. The mad act in Trafalgar Square, 
too, had done incalculable harm last week : men were saying 
more than ever, and the papers storming, that the Church's 
reliance on the supernatural was belied by every one of her 
public acts. "Scratch a Catholic and find an assassin" had 
been the text of a leading article in the New People, and 
Percy himself was dismaj-ed at the folly of the attempt. 
It was true that the Archbishop had formally repudiated 
both the act and the motive from the Cathedral pulpit, but 
that too had only served as an opportunity hastily taken up 
by the principal papers, to recall the continual policy of 
the Church to avail herself of violence while she repudiated 
the violent. Tlie horrible death of the man had in no way 
appeased popular indignation ; there were not even want- 
ing suggestions that the man had been seen coming out of 
Archbishop's House an hour before the attempt at assassi- 
nation had taken place. 

And now here, with dramatic swiftness, had come a mes- 
sage that the hero's own mother desired reconciliation with 
the Church that had attempted to murder her son. 

Again and again that afternoon, as Percy sped north- 



70 LORD OF THE WORLD 

wards on his visit to a priest in Worcester, and southwards 
once more as the lights began to shine towards evening, he 
wondered whether this were not a plot after all — some kind 
of retaliation, an attempt to trap him. Yet he had 
promised to say nothing, and to go. 

He finished his daily letter after dinner as usual, with a 
curious sense of fatality; addressed and stamped it. Then 
he went downstairs, in his walking-dress, to Father Black- 
more's room. 

"Will you hear my confession, father.'^" he said abruptly. 



II 



Victoria Station, still named after the great nineteenth- 
century Queen, was neither more nor less busy than usual 
as he came into it half-an-hour later. The vast platform, 
sunk now nearly two hundred feet below the ground level, 
showed the double crowd of passengers entering and leaving 
town. Those on the extreme left, towards whom Percy 
began to descend in the open glazed lift, were by far the 
most numerous, and the stream at the lift-entrance made 
it necessary for him to move slowly. 

He arrived at last, walking in the soft light on the 
noiseless ribbed rubber, and stood by the door of the long 
car that ran straight through to the Junction. It was the 
last of a series of a dozen or more, each of which slid off 
minute by minute. Then, still watching the endless move- 
ment of the lifts ascending and descending between the en- 
trances of the upper end of the station, he stepped in and 
sat down. 



THE ADVENT 71 

He felt quiet now that he had actually started. He had 
made his confession, just in order to make certain of his 
own soul, though scarcely expecting any definite danger, 
and sat now, his grey suit and straw hat in no way dis- 
tinguishing him as a priest (for a general leave was given 
by the authorities to dress so for any adequate reason). 
Since the case was not imminent, he had not brought stocks 
or pyx — Father Dolan had wired to him that he might fetch 
them if he wished from St. Joseph's, near the Junction. He 
had only the violet thread in his pocket, such as was cus- 
tomary for sick calls. 

He was sliding along peaceably enough, fixing his eyes 
on the empty seat opposite, and trying to preserve com- 
plete collectedness when the car abruptly stopped. Pie 
looked out, astonished, and saw by the white enamelled 
walks twenty feet from the window that they were already 
in the tunnel. The stoppage might arise from many causes, 
and he was not greatly excited, nor did it seem that others 
in the carriage took it very seriously ; he could hear, after 
a moment's silence, the talking recommence beyond the par- 
tition. 

Then there came, echoed by the walls, the sound of shout- 
ing from far away, mingled with hoots and chords ; it grew 
louder. The talking in the carriage stopped. He heard a 
window thrown up, and the next instant a car tore past, 
going back to the station although on the down line. This 
must be looked into, thought Percy: something certainly 
was happening; so he got up and went across the empty 
compartment to the further window. Again came the cry- 
ing of voices, again the signals, and once more a car 
whirled past, followed almost immediately by another. 



72 LORD OF THE WORLD 

There was a jerk — a smooth movement. Perc}' staggered 
and fell into a seat, as the carriage in which he was seated 
itself began to move backwards. 

There was a clamour now in the next compartment, and 
Percy made his way there through the door, only to find 
half-a-dozen men with their heads thrust from the windows, 
who paid absolutely no attention to his inquiries. So he 
stood there, aware that they knew no more than himself, 
waiting for an explanation from some one. It was dis- 
graceful, he told himself, that any misadventure should so 
disorganise the line. 

Twice the car stopped ; each time it moved on again after 
a hoot or two, and at last drew up at the platform whence 
it had started, although a hundred yards further out. 

Ah ! there was no doubt that something had happened ! 
The instant he opened the door a great roar met his ears, 
and as he sprang on to the platform and looked up at the 
end of the station, he began to understand. 

From right to left of the huge interior, across the plat- 
forms, swelling every instant, surged an enormous swaying, 
roaring crowd. The flight of steps, twenty yards broad, 
used only in cases of emergency, resembled a gigantic black 
cataract nearly two hundred feet in height. Each car as 
it drew up discharged more and more men and women, who 
ran like ants towards the assembly of their fellows. The 
noise was indescribable, the shouting of men, the scream- 
ing of women, the clang and hoot of the huge machines, 
and three or four times the brazen cry of a trumpet, as an 
emergency door was flung open overhead, and a small 
swirl of crowd poured through it towards the streets be- 



THE ADVENT 73 

yond. But after one look Percy looked no more at the 
people ; for there, high up beneath the clock, on the Gov- 
ernment signal board, flared out monstrous letters of fire, 
telling in Esperanto and English, the message for which 
England had grown sick. He read it a dozen times before 
he moved, staring, as at a supernatural sight which might 
denote the triumph of either heaven or hell. 

"Eastern Convention Dispersed. 

Peace, not War. 

Universal Brotherhood Established. 

Felsenburgh in London To-night." 



Ill 



It was not until nearly two hours later that Percy was 
standing at the house beyond the Junction. 

He had argued, expostulated, threatened, but the officials 
were like men possessed. Half of them had disappeared in 
the rush to the City, for it had leaked out, in spite of the 
Government's precautions, that Paul's House, known once 
as St. Paul's Cathedral, was to be the scene of Felsen- 
burgh's reception. The others seemed demented ; one man 
on the platform had dropped dead from nervous exhaustion, 
but no one appeared to care ; and the body lay huddled be- 



74 LORD OF THE WOULD 

neath a seat. Again and again Percy had been swept away 
by a rush, as he struggled from platform to platform in his 
search for a car that would take him to Croydon. It seemed 
that there was none to be had, and the useless carriages col- 
lected like drift-wood between the platforms, as others 
whirled up from the country bringing loads of frantic, 
delirious men, who vanished like smoke from the white rub- 
ber-boards. The platforms were continually crowded, and 
as continually emptied, and it was not until half-an-hour 
before midnight that the block began to move outwards 
again. 

Well, he was here at last, dishevelled, hatless and ex- 
hausted, looking up at the dark windows. 

He scarcely knew what he thought of the whole matter. 
War, of course, was terrible. And such a war as this would 
have been too terrible for the imagination to visualise ; but 
to the priest's mind there were other things even worse. 
What of universal peace — peace, that is to say, established 
by others than Christ's method .^ Or was God behind even 
this.? The questions were hopeless. 

Felsenburgh — it was he then who had done this thing — 
this thing undoubtedly greater than any secular event 
hitherto known in civilisation. What manner of man was 
he.'* What was his character, his motive, his method.'^ 
How would he use his success.'' ... So the points flew be- 
fore him like a stream of sparks, each, it might be, harm- 
less ; each, equally, capable of setting a world on fire. Mean- 
while here was an old woman who desired to be reconciled 
with God before she died. . . . 

He touched the button again, three or four times, and 



THE ADVENT 75 

waited. Then a light sprang out overhead, and he knew 
that he was heard. 

"I was sent for," he exclaimed to the bewildered maid. 
"I should have been here at twenty-two : I was prevented by 
the rush." 

She babbled out a question at him. 

"Yes, it is true, I believe," he said. "It is peace, not war. 
Kindly take me upstairs." 

He went through the hall with a curious sense of guilt. 
This was Bi'and's house then — that vivid orator, so bitterly 
eloquent against God ; and here was he, a priest, slinking 
in under cover of night. Well, well, it was not of his 
appointment. 

At the door of an upstairs room the maid turned to him. 

"A doctor, sir?" she said. 

"That is my affair," said Percy briefly, and opened the 
door. 

A little wailing cry broke from the comer, before he had 
time to close the door again. 

"Oh ! thank God ! I thought He had forgotten me. You 
are a priest, father .P" 

"I am a priest. Do you not remember seeing me in the 
Cathedral?" 

"Yes, yes, sir ; I saw you praying, father. Oh ! thank 
God, thank God !" 

Percy stood looking down at her a moment, seeing her 
flushed old face in the nightcap, her bright sunken eyes 
and her tremulous hands. Yes ; this was genuine enough. 

"Now, my child," he said, "tell me." 

"My confession, father." 



76 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Percy drew out the purple thread, slipped it over his 
shoulders, and sat down by the bed. 



But she would not let him go for a while after that. 

"Tell me, father. When will you bring me Holy Com- 
munion.'"' 

He hesitated. 

"I understand that Mr. Brand and his wife know nothing 
of all this.?" 

"No, father." 

"Tell me, are you very ill ?" 

"I don't know, father. They will not tell me. I thought 
I was gone last night." 

"When would you wish me to bring you Holy Communion ? 
I will do as you say." 

"Shall I send to you in a day or two.'* Father, ought I 
to tell him.?" 

"You are not obliged." 

"I will if I ought." 

"Well, think about it, and let me know. . . . You have 
heard what has happened.?" 

She nodded, but almost uninterestedly ; and Percy was 
conscious of a tiny prick of compunction at his own heart. 
After all, the reconciling of a soul to God was a greater 
thing than the reconciling of East to West. 

"It may make a difference to Mr. Brand," he said. "He 
will be a great man, now, you know." 

She still looked at him in silence, smiling a little. Percy 
was astonished at the youthfulness of that old face. Then 
her face changed. 



THE ADVENT 77 

"Father, I must not keep you; but tell me this — Who is 
this man?" 

"Fclsenburgh?" 

"Yes." 

"No one knows. We shall know more to-morrow. He is 
in town to-night." 

She looked so strange that Percy for an instant thought 
it was a seizure. Her face seemed to fall away in a kind 
of emotion, half cunning, half fear. 

"Well, my child.?" 

"Father, I am a little afraid when I think of that man. 
He cannot hann me, can he? I am safe now.? I am a 
C^ithohc ?" 

"My child, of course you are safe. What is the matter? 
How can this man injure you?" 

But the look of terror was still there, and Percy came a 
step nearer. 

"You must not give way to fancies," he said. "Just 
commit yourself to our Blessed Lord. This man can do 
you no harm." 

He was speaking now as to a child ; but it was of no use. 
Her old mouth was still sucked in, and her eyes wandered 
past him into the gloom of the room behind. 

"My child, tell me what is the matter. What do you 
know of Felsenburgh? You have been dreaming." 

She nodded suddenly and energetically, and Percy for 
the first time felt his heart give a little leap of apprehension. 
Was this old woman out of her mind, then? Or why was 
it that that name seemed to him sinister? Then he remem- 
bered that Father Blackmore had once talked like this. He 
made an effort, and sat down once more. 



78 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Now tell me plainly," he said. "You have been dream- 
ing. What have you dreamt?" 

She raised herself a little in bed, again glancing round 
the room ; then she put out her old ringed hand for one 
of his, and he gave it, wondering. 

"The door is shut, father .'' There is no one listening?" 

"No, no, my child. Why are you trembling? You must 
not be superstitious." 

"Father, I will tell you. Dreams are nonsense, are they 
not? Well, at least, this is what I dreamt. 

"I was somewhere in a great house ; I do not know where 
it was. It was a house I have never seen. It was one of 
the old houses, and it was very dark. I was a child, I 
thought, and I was ... I was afraid of something. The 
passages were all dark, and I went crying in the dark, look- 
ing for a light, and there was none. Then I heard a voice 
talking, a great way off. Father " 

Her hand gripped his more tightly, and again her eyes 
went round the room. 

With great difficulty Percy repressed a sigh. Yet he 
dared not leave her just now. The house was very still; 
only from outside now and again sounded the clang of the 
cars, as they sped countrywards again from the congested 
town, and once the sound of great shouting. He wondered 
what time it was. 

"Had you better tell me now ?" he asked, still talking with 
a patient simplicity. "What time will they be back?" 

"Not yet," she whispered. "Mabel said not till two 
o'clock. What time is it now, father?" 

He pulled out his watch with his disengaged hand. 

"It is not yet one," he said. 



THE ADVENT 79 

"Very well, listen, father. ... I was in this house ; and 
I heard that talking; and I ran along the passages, till I 
saw light below a door ; and then I stopped. . . . Nearer, 
father." 

Percy was a little awed in spite of himself. Her voice 
had suddenly dropped to a whisper, and her old eyes seemed 
to hold him strangely. 

"I stopped, father; I dared not go in. I could hear the 
talking, and I could see the light; and I dared not go in. 
Father, it was Felsenburgh in that room." 

From beneath came the sudden snap of a door; then the 
sound of footsteps. Percy turned his head abruptly, and 
at the same moment heard a swift indrawn breath from 
the old woman. 

"Hush!" he said. "Who is that.?" 

Two voices were talking in the hall below now, and at 
the sound the old woman relaxed her hold. 

"I — I thought it to be him," she murmured. 

Percy stood up ; he could see that she did not understand 
the situation. 

"Yes, my child," he said quietly, "but who is it.?" 

"My son and his wife," she said ; then her face changed 
once more. "Why — why, father " 

Her voice died in her throat, as a step vibrated outside. 
For a moment there was complete silence; then a whisper, 
plainly audible, in a girl's voice. 

"Why, her light is burning. Come in, Oliver, but softly." 

Then the handle turned. 



CHAPTER V 



There was an exclamation, then silence, as a tall, beautiful 
girl with flushed face and shining grey eyes came forward 
and stopped, followed by a man whom Percy knew at once 
from his pictures. A little whimpering sounded from the 
bed, and the priest lifted his hand instinctively to silence it. 

"Why," said Mabel ; and then stared at the man with 
the young face and the white hair. 

Oliver opened his lips and closed them again. He, too, 
had a strange excitement in his face. Then he spoke. 

"Who is this.!^" he said deliberateh'. 

"Oliver," cried the girl, turning to him abruptly, "this is 
the priest I saw " 

"A priest !" said the other, and came forward a step. 
"Why, I thought " 

Percy drew a breath to steady that maddening vibration 
in his throat. 

"Yes, I am a priest," he said. 

Again the whimpering broke out from the bed; and 
Percy, half turning again to silence it, saw the girl me- 
chanically loosen the clasp of the thin dust cloak over her 
white dress. 

"You sent for him, mother.''" snapped the man, with a 
tremble in his voice, and with a sudden jerk forward of his 
wliolc body. But the girl put out her hand. 

"Quietly, my dear," she said. "Now, sir " 



THE ADVENT 81 

"Yes, I am a priest," said Percy again, strung up now to 
a desperate resistance of will, hardly knowing what he said. 

"And you come to my house !" exclaimed the man. He 
came a step nearer, and half recoiled. "You swear you 
are a priest.'"' he said. "You have been here all this 
evening ?" 

"Since midnight." 

"And you are not " he stopped again. 

Mabel stepped straight between them. 

"Oliver," she said, still with that air of suppressed excite- 
ment, "we must not have a scene here. The poor dear is too 
ill. Will you come downstairs, sir.-^" 

Percy took a step towards the door, and Oliver moved 
slightly aside. Then the priest stopped, turned and lifted 
his hand. 

"God bless you !" he said simply, to the muttering figure 
ii- the bed. Then he went out, and waited outside the door. 

He could hear a low talking within ; then a compassionate 
murmur from the girl's voice ; then Oliver was beside him, 
trembling all over, as white as ashes, and made a silent ges- 
ture as he went past him down the stairs. 

The whole thing seemed to Percy like some incredible 
dream ; it was all so unexpected, so untrue to life. He 
felt conscious of an enormous shame at the sordidness of 
the affair, and at the same time of a kind of hopeless reck- 
lessness. The worst had happened and the best — that was 
his sole comfort. 

Oliver pushed a door open, touched a button, and went 
through into the suddenly lit room, followed by Percy. 
Still in silence, he pointed to a chair, Percy sat down, and 



82 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Oliver stood before tlie fireplace, his hands deep in tlie 
pockets of his jacket, sHghtly turned away. 

Percy's concentrated senses became aware of every detail 
of the room — the deep springy green carpet, smooth under 
his feet, the straight hanging thin silk curtains, the half- 
dozen low tables with a wealth of flowers upon them, and 
the books that lined the walls. The whole room was heavy 
with the scent of roses, although the windows were wide, 
and the night-breeze stirred the curtains continually. It 
was a woman's room, he told himself. Then he looked at 
the man's figure, lithe, tense, upright ; the dark grey suit 
not unlike his own, the beautiful curve of the jaw, the clear 
pale complexion, the thin nose, the protruding curve of 
idealism over the eyes, and the dark hair. It was a poet's 
face, he told himself, and the whole personality was a 
living and vivid one. Then he turned a little and rose as 
the door opened, and Mabel came in, closing it behind 
her. 

She came straight across to her husband, and put a hand 
on his shoulder. 

"Sit down, my dear," she said. "We must talk a little. 
Please sit down, sir." 

The three sat down, Percy on one side, and the husband 
and wife on a straight-backed settle opposite. 

The girl began again. 

*'This must be arranged at once," she said, "but we must 
have no tragedy. Oliver, do you understand? You must 
not make a scene. Leave this to me." 

She spoke with a curious gaiety ; and Percy to his aston- 
ishment saw that she was quite sincere : there was not the 
hint of cynicism. 



THE ADVENT 83 

"Oliver, my dear," she said again, "don't mouth hke that ! 
It is all perfectly right. I am going to manage this." 

Percy saw a venomous look directed at him by the man ; 
the girl saw it too, moving her strong humorous eyes from 
one to the other. She put her hand on his knee. 

"Oliver, attend ! Don't look at this gentleman so bitterly. 
He has done no harm." 

"No harm!" whispered the other. 

"No — no harm in the world. What does it matter what 
that poor dear upstairs thinks ? Now, sir, would you mind 
telling us why you came here?" 

Percy drew another breath. He had not expected this 
line. 

"I came here to receive Mrs. Brand back into the Church," 
he said. 

"And you have done so.'"' 

"I have done so." 

"Would you mind telling us your name? It makes It so 
much more convenient." 

Percy hesitated. Then he determined to meet her on her 
own ground. 

"Certainly. My name is Franklin." 

"Father Franklin?" asked the girl, with just the faintest 
tinge of mocking emphasis on the first word. 

"Yes. Father Percy Franklin, from Archbishop's House, 
Westminster," said the priest steadily. 

"Well, then. Father Percy Franklin ; can you tell us why 
you came here? I mean, who sent for you?" 

"Mrs. Brand sent for me." 

"Yes, but by what means?" 

"That I must not say." 



84. LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Oh, very good. . . . May we know what good comes of 
being 'received into the Church?' " 

"By being received into the Church, the soul is reconciled 
to God." 

"Oh! (OHver, be quiet.) And how do you do it, Father 
Franklin?" 

Percy stood up abruptly. 

"This is no good, madam," he said. "What is the use 
of these questions ?" 

The girl looked at him in open-eyed astonishment, still 
with her hand on her husband's knee. 

"The use, Father Franklin ! Why, we want to know. 
There is no church law against your telling us, is there?" 

Percy hesitated again. He did not understand in the 
least what she was after. Then he saw that he would give 
them an advantage if he lost his head at all : so he sat down 
again. 

"Certainly not. I will tell you if you wish to know. I 
heard Mrs. Brand's confession, and gave her absolution." 

"Oh ! yes ; and that does it, then ? And what next ?" 

"She ought to receive Holy Communion, and anointing, 
if she is in danger of death." 

Oliver twitched suddenly. 

"Christ !" he said softly. 

"Oliver !" cried the girl entreatingly. "Please leave this 
to nic. It is much better so. — And then, I suppose. Father 
Franklin, you want to give those other things to my 
mother, too?" 

"They are not absolutely necessary," said the priest, feel- 
ing, he did not know why, that he was somehow playing a 
losing game. 



THE ADVENT 85 

"Oh ! they are not necessary ? But you would like to ?" 

"I shall do so if possible. But I have done what is neces- 
sary." 

It required all his will to keep quiet. He was as a man 
who had armed himself in steel, only to find that his enemy 
was in the form of a subtle vapour. He simply had not an 
idea what to do next. He would have given anything for 
the man to have risen and flown at his throat, for this girl 
was too much for them both. 

"Yes," she said softly. "Well, it is hardly to be expected 
that my husband should give you leave to come here again. 
But I am very glad that you have done what you think 
necessary. No doubt it will be a satisfaction to you, Father 
Franklin, and to the poor old thing upstairs, too. While 
we — ijae — " she pressed her husband's knee — "we do not 
mind at all. Oh ! — but there is one thing more." 

"If you please," said Percy, wondering what on earth was 
coming. 

"You Christians — forgive me if I say anj^thing rude — 
but, you know, you Christians have a reputation for count- 
ing heads, and making the most of converts. We shall be 
so much obliged, Father Franklin, if you will give us your 
word not to advertise this — this incident. It would distress 
my husband, and give him a great deal of trouble." 

"Mrs. Brand — " began the priest. 

"One moment. . . . You see, we have not treated you 
badly. There has been no violence. We will promise not 
to make scenes with my mother. Will you promise us that.?" 

Percy had had time to consider, and he answered instantly. 

"Certainly, I will promise that." 

Mabel sighed contentedly. 



86 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Well, that is all right. We are so much obliged. . . . 
And I think we may say this, that perhaps after considera- 
tion my husband may see his way to letting you come here 
again to do Communion and — and the other thing " 

Again that spasm shook the man beside her. 

*'Well, we will see about that. At any rate, we know your 
address, and can let you know. . . . By the way, Father 
Franklin, are you going back to Westminster to-night?" 

He bowed. 

*'Ah! I hope j^ou will get through. You will find Lon- 
don very much excited. Perhaps you heard " 

"Felsenburgh .f*" said Percy. 

"Yes. Julian Felsenburgh," said the girl softly, again 
with that strange excitement suddenly alight in her eyes. 
"Julian Felsenburgh," she repeated. "He is there, you 
know. He will stay in England for the present." 

Again Percy was conscious of that slight touch of fear at 
the mention of that name. 

"I understand there is to be peace," he said. 

The girl rose and her husband with her. 

"Yes," she said, almost compassionately, "there is to be 
peace. Peace at last." (She moved half a step towards 
him, and her face glowed like a rose of fire. Her hand 
rose a little. ) "Go back to London, Father Franklin, and 
use your eyes. You will see him, I dare say, and you will 
see more besides." (Her voice began to vibrate.) "And 
you will understand, perhaps, why we have treated you like 
this — why we are no longer afraid of you — why we are 
willing that my mother should do as she pleases. Oh! 
you will understand. Father Franklin — if not to-night, to- 
morrow ; or if not to-morrow, at least in a very short time." 



THE ADVENT 87 

"Mabel!" cried her husband. 

The girl wheeled, and threw her arms round him, and 
kissed him on the mouth. 

"Oh! I am not ashamed, Oliver, my dear. Let him go 
and see for himself. Good-night, Father Franklin." 

As he went towards the door, hearing the ping of the bell 
that some one touched in the room behind him, he turned 
once more, dazed and bewildered; and there were the two, 
husband and wife, standing in the soft, sunny light, as if 
transfigured. The girl had her arm round the man's 
shoulder, and stood upright and radiant as a pillar of fire ; 
and even on the man's face there was no anger now — noth- 
ing but an almost supernatural pride and confidence. They 
were both smiling. 

Then Percy passed out into the soft, summer night. 



II 



Percy understood nothing except that he was afraid, as 
he sat in the crowded car that whirled him up to London. 
He scarcely even heard the talk round him, although it was 
loud and continuous ; and what he heard meant little to him. 
He understood only that there had been strange scenes, that 
London was said to have gone suddenly mad, that Felsen- 
burgh had spoken that night in Paul's House. 

He was afraid at the way in which he had been treated, 
and he asked himself dully again and again what it was 
that had inspired that treatment; it seemed that he had 
been in the presence of the supernatural ; he was conscious 
of shivering a little, and of the symptoms of an intolerable 



88 LORD OF THE WORLD 

sleepiness. It was scarcely strange to him that he should 
be sitting in a crowded car at two o'clock of a summer dawn. 

Thrice the car stopped, and he stared out at the signs of 
confusion that were everywhere ; at the figures that ran in 
the twilight between the tracks, at a couple of wrecked car- 
riages, a tumble of tarpaulins ; he listened mechanically to 
the hoots and cries that sounded everywhere. 

As he stepped out at last on to the platform, he found 
it very much as he had left it two hours before. There was 
the same desperate rush as the car discharged its load, the 
same dead body beneath the seat ; and above all, as he ran 
helplessly behind the crowd, scarcely knowing whither he 
ran or why, above him burned the same stupendous message 
beneath the clock. Then he found himself in the lift, and 
a minute later he was out on the steps behind the station. 

There, too, was an astonishing sight. The lamps still 
burned overhead, but beyond them lay the first pale streaks 
of the false dawn. The street that ran now straight to the 
old royal palace, uniting there, as at the centre of a web, 
with those that came from Westminster, the Mall and Hyde 
Park, was one sohd pavement of heads. On this side and 
that rose up the hotels and "Houses of Joy," the windows 
all ablaze with light, solemn and triumphant as if to wel- 
come a king; while far ahead against the sky stood the 
monstrous palace outlined in fire, and alight from within 
like all other houses within view. The noise was bewilder- 
ing. It was impossible to distinguish one sound from an- 
other. Voices, horns, drums, the tramp of a thousand foot- 
steps on the rubber pavements, the sombre roll of wheels 
from the station behind — all united in one overwhelmingly 
solemn booming, overscored by shriller notes. 



THE ADVENT 89 

It was impossible to move. 

He found himself standing in a position of extraordinary 
advantage, at the very top of the broad flight of steps 
that led down into the old station yard, now a wide space 
that united, on the left the broad road to the palace, 
and on the right Victoria Street, that showed like all else one 
vivid perspective of lights and heads. Against the sky on 
his right rose up the illuminated head of the Cathedral Cam- 
panile. It appeared to him as if he had known that in some 
previous existence. 

He edged himself mechanically a foot or two to his left, 
till he clasped a pillar ; then he waited, trying not to analyse 
his emotions, but to absorb them. 

Gradually he became aware that this crowd was as no 
other that he had ever seen. To his psychical sense it 
seemed to him that it possessed a unity unlike any other. 
There was magnetism in the air. There was a sensation 
as if a creative act were in process, whereby thousands of 
individual cells were being welded more and more perfectly 
every instant into one huge sentient being with one will, 
one emotion, and one head. The crying of voices seemed 
significant only as the stirrings of this creative power which 
so expressed itself. Here rested this giant humanity, 
stretching to his sight in living limbs so far as he could 
see on every side, waiting, waiting for some consummation 
— stretching, too, as his tired brain began to guess, down 
every thoroughfare of the vast city. 

He did not even ask himself for what they waited. He 
knew, 3'et he did not know. He knew it was for a revelation 
— for something that should crown their aspirations, and 
fix them so for ever. 



90 LORD OF THE WORLD 

He had a sense that he had seen all this before ; and, like 
a child, he began to ask himself where it could have hap- 
pened, until he remembered that it was so that he had once 
dreamt of the Judgment Day — of humanity gathered to 
meet Jesus Christ — Jesus Christ ! Ah ! how tiny that Fig- 
ure seemed to him now — how far away — real indeed, but 
insignificant to himself — how hopelessly apart from this 
tremendous life ! He glanced up at the Campanile. Yes ; 
there was a piece of the True Cross there, was there not ? — 
a little piece of the wood on which a Poor Man had died 
twenty centuries ago. . . . Well, well. It was a long way 
off. . . . 

He did not quite understand what was happening to him. 
"Sweet Jesus, be to me not a Judge but a Saviour," he 
whispered beneath his breath, gripping the granite of the 
pillar ; and a moment later knew how futile was that prayer. 
It was gone like a breath in this vast, vivid atmosphere of 
man. He had said mass, had he not? this morning — in 
white vestments. — Yes ; he had believed it all then — des- 
perately, but truly : and now. . . . 

To look into the future was as useless as to look into the 
past. There was no future, and no past : it was all one 
eternal instant, present and final. . . . 

Then he let go of effort, and again began to see with his 
bodily eyes. 

The dawn was coming up the sky now, a steady 
soft brightening that appeared in spite of its sover- 
eignty to be as nothing compared with the brilliant 
light of the streets. "We jiccd no sun," he whispered, 
smiling piteously ; "no sun or light of a candle. We 



THE ADVENT 91 

have our light on earth — the hght that lighteneth every 
man. ..." 

The Campanile seemed further away than ever now, in 
that ghostly glimmer of dawn — more and more helpless 
every moment, compared with the beautiful vivid shining 
of the streets. 

Then he listened to the sounds, and it seemed to him as if 
somewhere, far down eastwards, there was a silence begin- 
ning. He jerked his head impatiently, as a man behind him 
began to talk rapidly and confusedly. Why would he not 
be silent, and let silence be heard.'* . . . The man stopped 
presently, and out of the distance there swelled up a roar, 
as soft as the roll of a summer tide ; it passed up towards 
him from the right ; it was about him, dinning in his ears. 
There was no longer any individual voice: it was the 
breathing of the giant that had been born ; he was crying 
out too ; he did not know what he said, but he could not 
be silent. His veins and nerves seemed alight with wine; 
and as he stared down the long street, hearing the huge 
cry ebb from him and move toward the palace, he knew 
why he had cried, and why he was now silent. 

A slender, fish-shaped thing, as white as milk, as ghostly 
as a shadow, and as beautiful as the dawn, slid into sight 
half-a-mile away, turned and came towards him, floating, 
as it seemed, on the very wave of silence that it created, up, 
up the long curving street on outstretched wings, not 
twenty feet above the heads of the crowd. There was one 
great sigh, and then silence once more. 

When Percy could think consciously again — for his will 
was only capable of efforts as a clock of ticks — the strange 



92 LORD OF THE WORLD 

white thing was nearer. He told himself that he had seen 
a hundred such before; and at the same instant that this 
was different from all others. 

Then it was nearer still, floating slowly, slowly, like a 
gull over the sea ; he could make out its smooth nose, its 
low parapet beyond, the steersman's head motionless ; he 
could even hear now the soft winnowing of the screw — 
and then he saw that for which he had waited. 

High on the central deck there stood a chair, draped, too, 
in white, with some insignia visible above its back; and in 
the chair sat the figure of a man, motionless and lonely. 
He made no sign as he came ; his dark dress showed vivid- 
edly against the whiteness ; his head was raised, and he 
turned it gently now and again from side to side. 

It came nearer still, in the profound stillness ; the head 
turned, and for an instant the face was plainly visible in 
the soft, radiant light. 

It was a pale face, strongly marked, as of a young man, 
with arched, black eyebrows, thin lips, and white hair. 

Then the face turned once more, the steersman shifted 
his head, and the beautiful shape, wheeling a little, passed 
the corner, and moved up towards the palace. 

There was an hysterical yelp somewhere, a cry, and again 
the tempestuous groan broke out. 



BOOK II— THE ENCOUNTER 



CHAPTER I 



Oliver Brand was seated at his desk, on the evening of 
the next day, reading the leading article of the New People, 
evening edition. 

"We have had time," he read, "to recover ourselves a little 
from the intoxication of last night. Before embarking on 
prophecy, it will be as well to recall the facts. Up 
to yesterday evening our anxiety with regard to the Eastern 
crisis continued ; and when twenty-one o'clock struck there 
were not more than forty persons in London — the English 
delegates, that is to say — who knew positively that the 
danger was over. Between that moment and half-an-hour 
later the Government took a few discreet steps : a select 
number of persons were informed; the police were called 
out, with half-a-dozen regiments, to preserve order ; Paul's 
House was cleared ; the railroad companies were warned; and 
at the half hour precisely the announcement was made by 
means of the electric placards in every quarter of London, 
as well as in all large provincial towns. We have not space 
now to adequately describe the admirable manner in which 
the public authorities did their duty; it is enough to say 
that not more than seventy fatalities took place in the whole 
of London ; nor is it our business to criticise the action of 
the Government, in choosing this mode of making the an- 
nouncement. 

"By twenty-two o'clock Paul's House was filled in every 
corner, the Old Choir was reserved for members of Parlia- 



94s LORD OF THE WORLD 

ment and public officials, the quarter-dome galleries were 
filled with ladles, and to the rest of the floor the public was 
freely admitted. The volor-pollce also inform us now that 
for about the distance of one mile In every direction round 
this centre every thoroughfare was blocked with pedes- 
trians, and, two hours later, as we all know, practically all 
the main streets of the whole of London were in the same 
condition. 

"It was an excellent choice by which Mr. Oliver Brand 
was selected as the first speaker. His arm was still in 
bandages ; and the appeal of his figure as well as his pas- 
sionate words struck the first explicit note of the evening. 
A report of his words will be found in another column. 
Li their turns, the Prime Minister, Mr. Snowford, the 
First Minister of the Admiralty, the Secretary for 
Eastern Affairs, and Lord Pemberton, all spoke a few 
words, corroborating the extraordinary news. At a quarter 
before twenty-three, the noise of cheering outside an- 
nounced the arrival of the American delegates from Paris, 
and one by one these ascended the platform by the south 
gates of the Old Choir. Each spoke in turn. It is im- 
possible to appreciate words spoken at such a moment as 
this ; but perhaps it is not invidious to name Mr. Markham 
as the orator who above all others appealed to those who 
were privileged to hear him. It was he, too, who told us 
explicitly what others had merely mentioned, to the effect 
that the success of the American efforts was entirely due to 
Mr. Julian Felsenburgh. As j'et Mr. Felsenburgh 
had not arrived; but In answer to a roar of Inquiry, Mr. 
Markham announced that this gentleman would be amongst 
them In a few minutes. He then proceeded to describe to 
us, so far as was possible in a few sentences, the methods 
by which Mr. Felsenburgh had accomplished what is 
probably the most astonishing task known to history. It 
seems from his words that Mr. Felsenburgh (whose 
biography, so far as it is known, we give In another column) 
is probably the greatest orator that the world has ever 



THE ENCOUNTER 95 

known — we use these words deliberately. All languages 
seem the same to him ; he delivered speeches during the eight 
months through which the Eastern Convention lasted, in no 
less than fifteen tongues. Of his manner in speaking we 
shall have a few remarks to make presently. He showed 
also, Mr. Markham told us, the most astonishing knowl- 
edge, not only of human nature, but of every trait under 
which that divine thing manifests itself. He appeared 
acquainted with the history, the prejudices, the fears, the 
hopes, the expectations of all the innumerable sects and 
castes of the East to whom it was his business to speak. In 
fact, as Mr. Markham said, he is probably the first perfect 
product of that new cosmopolitan creation to which the 
world has laboured throughout its history. In no less than 
nine places — Damascus, Irkutsk, Constantinople, Calcutta, 
Benares, Nanking, among them — he was hailed as Messiah 
by a Mohammedan mob. Finally, in America, where this 
extraordinary figure has arisen, all speak well of him. He 
has been guilty of none of those crimes — there is not one 
that convicts him of sin — those crimes of the Yellow Press, 
of corruption, of commercial or political bullying which 
have so stained the past of all those old politicians who 
made the sister continent what she has become. Mr. Fel- 
SENBURGH has not even formed a party. He, and not his 
underlings, have conquered. Those who were present in 
Paul's House on this occasion will understand us when we 
say that the effect of those words was indescribable. 

"When Mr. Markham sat down, there was a silence ; then, 
in order to quiet the rising excitement, the organist struck 
the first chords of the Masonic Hymn ; the words were taken 
up, and presently not only the whole interior of the build- 
ing rang with it, but outside, too, the people responded, 
and the city of London for a few moments became indeed a 
temple of the Lord. 

"Now indeed we come to the most difficult part of our task, 
and it is better to confess at once that anything resem- 
bling journalistic descriptiveness must be resolutely laid 



96 LORD OF THE WORLD 

aside. The greatest things are best told in the simplest 
words. 

"Towards the close of the fourth verse, a figure in a plain 
dark suit was observed ascending the steps of the plat- 
form. For a moment this attracted no attention, but when 
it was seen that a sudden movement had broken out among 
the delegates, the singing began to falter; and it ceased 
altogether as the figure, after a slight inclination to right 
and left, passed up the further steps that led to the rostrum. 
Then occurred a curious incident. The organist aloft at 
first did not seem to understand, and continued playing, but 
a sound broke out from the crowd resembling a kind of 
groan, and instantly he ceased. But no cheering followed. 
Instead a profound silence dominated in an instant the huge 
throng ; this, by some strange magnetism, communicated 
itself to those without the building, and when Mr. Felsen- 
BURGH uttered his first words, it was in a stillness that was 
like a living thing. We leave the explanation of this phe- 
nomenon to the expert in psychology. 

"Of his actual words we have nothing to say. So far as 
we are aware no reporter made notes at the moment ; but the 
speech, delivered in Esperanto, was a very simple one, and 
very short. It consisted of a brief announcement of the 
great fact of Universal Brotherhood, a congratulation to all 
who were yet alive to witness this consummation of history ; 
and, at the end, an ascription of praise to that Spirit of 
the World whose incarnation was now accomplished. 

"So much we can say ; but we can say nothing as to the 
impression of the personality who stood there. In appear- 
ance the man seemed to be about thirty-three years of age, 
clean-shaven, upright, with white hair and dark eyes and 
brows ; he stood motionless with his hands on the rail, he 
made but one gesture that drew a kind of sob from the 
crowd, he spoke these words slowly, distinctly, and in a 
clear voice ; then he stood waiting. 

"There was no response but a sigh which sounded in the 
ears of at least one who heard it as if the whole world drew 



THE ENCOUNTER 97 

breath for the first time; and then that strange heart- 
shaking silence fell again. Many were weeping silently, 
the lips of thousands moved without a sound, and all faces 
were turned to that simple figure, as if the hope of every 
soul were centred there. So, if we may believe it, the eyes 
of many, centuries ago, were turned on one known now to 
history as Jesus of Nazareth. 

"Mr. Felsenbukgh stood so a moment longer, then he 
turned down the steps, passed across the platform and dis- 
appeared. 

"Of what took place outside we have received the following 
account from an eye-witness. The white volor, so well 
known now to all who were in London that night, had re- 
mained stationary outside the little south door of the Old 
Choir aisle, poised about twenty feet above the ground. 
Gradually it became known to the crowd, in those few min- 
utes, who it was who had arrived in it, and upon Mr. Fel- 
senburgh's reappearance that same strange groan sounded 
through the whole length of Paul's Churchyard, followed 
by the same silence. The volor descended ; the master stepped 
on board, and once more the vessel rose to a height 
of twenty feet. It was thought at first that some speech 
would be made, but none was necessary ; and after a mo- 
ment's pause, the volor began that wonderful parade which 
London will never forget. Four times during the night Mr. 
Felsenburgh went round the enormous metropolis, speak- 
ing no word; and everywhere the groan preceded and fol- 
lowed him, while silence accompanied his actual passage. 
Two hours after sunrise the white ship rose over Hamp- 
stead and disappeared towards the North ; and since then 
he, whom we call, in truth, the Saviour of the world, has 
not been seen, 

"And now what remains to be said.'' 

"Comment is useless. It is enough to say in one short 
sentence that the new era has begun, to which prophets and 
kings, and the suffering, the dying, all who labour and are 
heavy-laden, have aspired in vain. Not only has inter- 



98 LORD OF THE WORLD 

continental rivalry ceased to exist, but the strife of home 
dissensions has ceased also. Of him who has been the herald 
of its inauguration we have nothing more to say. Time 
alone can show what is yet left for him to do. 

"But what has been done is as follows. The Eastern peril 
has been for ever dissipated. It is understood now, by 
fanatic barbarians as well as by civilised nations, that the 
reign of War is ended. 'Not peace but a sword,' said 
Christ ; and bitterly true have those words proved to be. 
'Not a sword but peace' is the retort, articulate at last, 
from those who have renounced Christ's claims or have 
never accepted them. The principle of love and union 
learned however falteringly in the West during the last 
century, has been taken up in the East as well. There 
shall be no more an appeal to arms, but to justice ; no longer 
a crying after a God Who hides Himself, but to Man who 
has learned his own Divinity. The Supernatural is dead; 
rather, we know now that it never yet has been alive. What 
remains is to work out this new lesson, to bring every ac- 
tion, word and thought to the bar of Love and Justice; 
and this will be, no doubt, the task of years. Every code 
must be reversed ; every barrier thrown down ; party must 
unite with party, country with country, and continent with 
continent. There is no longer the fear of fear, the dread 
of the hereafter, or the p£.ralysis of strife. Man has 
groaned long enough in the travails of birth ; his blood has 
been poured out like water through his own foolishness ; but 
at length he understands himself and is at peace. 

"Let it be seen at least that England is not behind the 
nations in this work of reformation ; let no national isola- 
tion, pride of race, or drunkenness of wealth hold her hands 
back from this enormous work. The responsibility is in- 
calculable, but the victory certain. Let us go softly, hum- 
bled by the knowledge of our crimes in the past, confident 
in the hope of our achievements in the future, towards 
that reward which is in sight at last — the reward hidden so 
long by the selfishness of men, the darkness of reUgion, and 



THE ENCOUNTER 99 

the strife of tongues — the reward promised by one who 
knew not what he said and denied what he asserted — Blessed 
are the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, for they shall 
inherit the earth, be named the children of God, and find 
mercy." 

Oliver, white to the lips, with his wife kneeling now be- 
side him, turned the page and read one more short para- 
graph, marked as being the latest news. 

"It is understood that the Government is in communication 
with Mr. Felsenburgh." 

II 

"Ah! it is journalese," said Oliver, at last, leaning back. 
"Tawdry stuff ! But— but the thing !" 

Mabel got up, passed across to the window-seat, and sat 
down. Her lips opened once or twice, but she said nothing. 

"My darling," cried the man, "have you nothing to say.'"' 

She looked at him tremulously a moment. 

"Say!" she said. "As you said, What is the use of 
words ?" 

"Tell me again," said Oliver. "How do I know it is not a 
dream .''" 

"A dream," she said. "Was there ever a dream like this.?" 

Again she got up restlessly, came across the floor, and 
knelt down by her husband once more, taking his hands in 
hers. 

"ISIy dear," she said, "I tell you it is not a dream. It 
is reality at last. I was there too — do you not remember? 
You waited for me when all was over — when He was gone 
out — we saw Him together, you and I. We heard Him — 



100 LORD OF THE WORLD 

you on the platform and I in the gallery. We saw Him 
again pass up the Embankment as we stood in the crowd. 
Then we came home — and we found the priest." 

Her face was transfigured as she spoke. It was as of one 
who saw a Divine Vision. She spoke very quietly, without 
excitement or hysteria. Oliver stared at her a moment; 
then he bent forward and kissed her gently. 

"Yes, my darling ; it is true. But I want to hear it again 
and again. Tell me again what you saw." 

"I saw the Son of Man," she said. "Oh ! there is no other 
phrase. The Saviour of the world, as that paper says. 
I knew Him in my heart as soon as I saw Him — as we all 
did — as soon as He stood there holding the rail. It was 
like a glory round his head. I understand it all now. It 
was He for whom we have waited so long ; and He has come, 
bringing Peace and Goodwill in His hands. When He 
spoke, I knew it again. His voice was as — as the sound 
of the sea — as simple as that — as — as lamentable — as 
strong as that. — Did you not hear it.''" 

Oliver bowed his head. 

"I can trust Him for all the rest," went on the girl softly. 
"I do not know where He is, nor when He will come back, 
nor what He will do. I suppose there is a great deal for 
Him to do, before He is fully known — laws, reforms — 
that will be your business, my dear. And the rest of us 
must wait, and love, and be content." 

Oliver again lifted his face and looked at her. 

"Mabel, my dear " 

"Oh ! I knew it even last night," she said, "but I did 
not know that I knew it till I awoke to-day and remembered. 
I dreamed of Him all night. . . . Oliver, where is He?" 



THE ENCOUNTER 101 

He shook his head. 

"Yes, I know where He is, but I am under oath " 

She nodded quickly, and stood up. 

"Yes. I should not have asked that. Well, we are con- 
tent to wait." 

There was silence for a moment or two. Oliver broke it. 

"My dear, what do you mean when you say that He is not 
yet known.'"' 

"I mean just that," she said. "The rest only know what 
He has done — not what He is ; but that, too, will come in 
time." 

"And meanwhile " 

"iMeanwhile, you must work ; the rest will come by and 
bye. Oh! Oliver, be strong and faithful." 

She kissed him quickly, and went out. 

Oliver sat on without moving, staring, as his habit was, 
out at the wide view be^'ond his windows. This time yes- 
terday he was leaving Paris, knowing the fact indeed — for 
the delegates had arrived an hour before — but ignorant of 
the Man. Now he knew the INIan as well — at least he had 
seen Him, heard Him, and stood enchanted under the glow 
of His personality. He could explain it to himself no more 
than could any one else — unless, perhaps, it were IMabel. 
The others had been as he had been: awed and overcome, 
yet at the same time kindled in the very depths of their 
souls. They had come out — Snowford, Cartwright, Pem- 
berton, and the rest — on to the steps of Paul's House, fol- 
lowing that strange figure. They had intended to say 
something, but they were dumb as they saw the sea of white 
faces, heard the groan and the silence, and experienced that 



102 LORD OF THE WORLD 

compelHng wave of magnetism that surged up like some- 
thing physical, as the volor rose and started on that in- 
describable progress. 

Once more he had seen Him, as he and Mabel stood to- 
gether on the deck of the electric boat that carried them 
south. The white ship had passed along overhead, smooth 
and steady, above the heads of that vast multitude, bear- 
ing Him who, if any had the right to that title, was indeed 
the Saviour of the world. Then they had come home, and 
found the priest. 

That, too, had been a shock to him; for, at first sight, 
it seemed that this priest was the very man he had seen 
ascend the rostrum two hours before. It was an extraordi- 
nary likeness — the same young face and white hair. 
Mabel, of course, had not noticed it ; for she had only seen 
Felsenburgh at a great distance ; and he himself had soon 
been reassured. And as for his mother — it was terrible 
enough ; if it had not been for Mabel there would have been 
violence done last night. How collected and reasonable she 
had been ! And, as for his mother — he must leave her alone 
for the present. By and bye, perhaps, something might be 
done. The future! It was that which engrossed him — the 
future, and the absorbing power of the personality 
under whose dominion he had fallen last night. All else 
seemed insignificant now — even his mother's defection, her 
illness — all paled before this new dawn of an unknown sun. 
And in an hour he would know more; he was summoned to 
Westminster to a meeting of the whole House ; their pro- 
posals to Felsenburgh were to be formulated ; it was in- 
tended to offer him a great position. 

Yes, as Mabel had said ; this was now their work — to carry 



THE ENCOUNTER 103 

into effect the new principle that had suddenly become in- 
carnate in this grey-haired young American — the principle 
of Universal Brotherhood. It would mean enormous labour ; 
all foreign relations would have to be readjusted — trade, 
policy, methods of government — all demanded re-statement. 
Europe was already organised internally on a basis of 
riiutual protection: that basis was now gone. There was 
no more any protection, because there was no more any 
menace. Enormous labour, too, awaited the Government 
in other directions. A Blue-book must be prepared, con- 
taining a complete report of the proceedings in the East, 
together with the text of the Treaty which had been laid 
before them in Paris, signed by the Eastern Emperor, the 
feudal kings, the Turkish Republic, and countersigned by 
the American plenipotentiaries. . . . Finally, even home 
politics required reform : the friction of old strife between 
centre and extremes must cease forthwith — there must be 
but one party now, and that at the Prophet's disposal. . . . 
He grew be^dldered as he regarded the prospect, and saw 
how the whole plane of the world was shifted, how the entire 
foundation of western life required readjustment. It was 
a Revolution indeed, a cataclysm more stupendous than even 
invasion itself; but it was the conversion of darkness into 
light, and chaos into order. 
He drew a deep breath, and so sat pondering. 

Mabel came down to him half-an-hour later, as he dined 
early before starting for Whitehall. 

"Mother is quieter," she said. "We must be very pa- 
tient, Oliver. Have you decided yet as to whether the priest 
is to come again.'"' 



104- LORD OF THE WORLD 

He shook his head. 

"I can think of nothing," he said, "but of what I have to 
do. You decide, my dear; I leave it in your hands." 

She nodded. 

"I will talk to her again presently. Just now she can un- 
derstand very little of what has happened. . , . What time 
shall you be home?" 

"Probably not to-night. We shall sit all night." 

"Yes, dear. And what shall I tell Mr. Phillips.?" 

"I will telephone in the morning. . . . Mabel, do you re- 
member what I told you about the priest?" 

"His likeness to the other?" 

"Yes. What do you make of that.?" 

She smiled. 

"I make nothing at all of it. Why should they not be 
alike?" 

He took a fig from the dish, and swallowed it, and stood 
up. 

"It is only very curious," he said. "Now, good-night, my 
dear." 



Ill 



"Oh, mother," said Mabel, kneeling by the bed; "cannot 
you understand what has happened?" 

She had tried desperately to tell the old lady of the 
extraordinary change that had taken place in the world — 
and without success. It seemed to her that some great 
issue depended on it; that it would be piteous if the old 
woman went out into the dark unconscious of what had 
come. It was as if a Christian knelt by the death-bed 



THE ENCOUNTER 105 

of a Jew on the first Easter Monday. But the old lady 
lay in her bed, terrified but obdurate. 

"Mother," said the girl, "let me tell you again. Do you 
not understand that all which Jesus Christ promised has 
come true, though in another way ? The reign of God has 
really begun ; but we know now who God is. You said just 
now you wanted the Forgiveness of Sins; well, you have 
that ; we all have it, because there is no such thing as sin. 
There is only Crime. And then Communion. You used to 
believe that that made you a partaker of God ; well, we are 
all partakers of God, because we are human beings. Don't 
you see that Christianity is only one way of saying all 
that ? I dare say it was the only way, for a time ; but that 
is all over now. Oh ! and how much better this is ! It is 
true — true. You can see it to be true !" 

She paused a moment, forcing herself to look at that 
piteous old face, the flushed wrinkled cheeks, the writhing 
knotted hands on the coverlet. 

"Look how Christianity has failed — how it has divided 
people; think of all the cruelties — the Inquisition, the Re- 
ligious Wars ; the separations between husband and wife 
and parents and children — the disobedience to the State, the 
treasons. Oh ! you cannot believe that these were right. 
What kind of a God would that be ! And then Hell ; how 
could you ever have believed in that.'' . . . Oh! mother, 
don't believe anything so frightful. . . . Don't you under- 
stand that that God has gone — that He never existed at 
all — that it was all a hideous nightmare ; and that now we 
all know at last what the truth is. . . . Mother! think of 
what happened last night — how He came — the INIan of 
whom you were so frightened. I told you what He was 



106 LORD OF THE WORLD 

like — so quiet and strong — how every one was silent — of 
the — the extraordinary atmosphere, and how six millions 
of people saw Him. And think what He has done — how 
He has healed all the old wounds — how the whole world is 
at peace at last — and of what is going to happen. Oh ! 
mother, give up those horrible old lies ; give them up ; be 
brave." 

"The priest, the priest !" moaned the old woman at last. 

*'0h ! no, no, no — not the priest ; he can do nothing. He 
knows it's all lies, too !" 

"The priest ! the priest !" moaned the other again. "He 
can tell you; he knows the answer." 

Her face was convulsed with effort, and her old fingers 
fumbled and twisted with the rosary. Mabel grew sud- 
denly frightened, and stood up. 

"Oh! mother!" She stooped and kissed her. "There! I 
won't say any more now. But just think about it quietly. 
Don't be in the least afraid ; it is all perfectly right." 

She stood a moment, still looking compassionately down; 
torn by sympathy and desire. No ! it was no use now ; she 
must wait till the next day. 

"I'll look in again presently," she said, "when you have 
had dinner. Mother ! don't look like that ! Kiss me !" 

It was astonishing, she told herself that evening, how any 
one could be so blind. And what a confession of weakness, 
too, to call only for the priest ! It was ludicrous, absurd ! 

She herself was filled with an extraordinary^ peace. Even 
death itself seemed now no longer terrible, for was not 
death swallowed up in victory.'' She contrasted the selfish 
individualism of the Christian, who sobbed and shrank from 
death, or, at the best, thought of it only as the gate to his 



THE ENCOUNTER 107 

own eternal life, with the free altruism of the New Believer 
who asked no more than that Man should live and grow, 
that the Spirit of the World should triumph and reveal 
Himself, while he, the unit, was content to sink back into 
that reservoir of energy from which he drew his life. At 
this moment she Avould have suffered anything, faced death 
cheerfully — she contemplated even the old woman upstairs 
with pity — for w^as it not piteous that death should not 
bring her to herself and reality? 

She was in a quiet whirl of intoxication ; it was as if the 
heavy veil of sense had rolled back at last and shown a 
sweet, eternal landscape behind — a shadowless land of peace 
where the lion lay down with the lamb, and the leopard 
with the kid. There should be war no more: that bloody 
spectre was dead, and with him the brood of evil that lived 
in his shadow — superstition, conflict, terror, and unreality. 
The idols were smashed, and rats had run out ; Jehovah was 
fallen ; the wild-eyed dreamer of Galilee was in his grave ; 
the reign of priests was ended. And in their place stood 
a strange, quiet figure of indomitable power and unruffled 
tenderness. . . . He whom she had seen — the Son of Man, 
the Saviour of the world, as she had called Him just now — 
He who bore these titles was no longer a monstrous figure, 
half God and half man, claiming both natures and possess- 
ing neither ; one who was tempted without temptation, and 
who conquered without merit, as his followers said. Here 
was one instead whom she could follow, a god indeed and 
a man as well — a god because human, and a man because 
so divine. 

She said no more that night. She looked into the bed- 



108 LORD OF THE WORLD 

room for a few minutes, and saw the old woman asleep. 
Her old hand lay out on the coverlet, and still between the 
fingers was twisted the silly string of beads. Mabel went 
softly across in the shaded light, and tried to detach it ; 
but the wrinkled fingers writhed and closed, and a murmur 
came from the half-open lips. Ah! how piteous it was, 
thought the girl, how hopeless that a soul should flow out 
into such darkness, unwilling to make the supreme, gener- 
ous surrender, and lay down its life because life itself de- 
manded it ! 
Then she went to her own room. 

The clocks were chiming three, and the grey dawn lay on 
the walls, when she awoke to find by her bed the woman 
who had sat with the old lady. 

"Come at once, madam ; Mrs. Brand is dying." 



IV 

Oliver was with them by six o'clock ; he came straight up 
into his mother's room to find that all was over. 

The room was full of the morning light and the clean 
air, and a bubble of bird-music poured in from the lawn. 
But his wife knelt by the bed, still holding the wrinkled 
hands of the old woman, her face buried in her arms. The 
face of his mother was quieter than he had ever seen it, 
the lines showed only like the faintest shadows on an ala- 
baster mask ; her lips were set in a smile. He looked for 
a moment, waiting until the spasm that caught his throat 
had died again. Then he put his hand on his wife's 
shoulder. 



THE ENCOUNTER 109 

"When?" he said. 

Mabel lifted her face. 

"Oh! Oliver," she murmured, "It was an hour ago. 
. . . Look at this." 

She released the dead hands and showed the rosary still 
twisted there; it had snapped in the last struggle, and a 
brown bead lay beneath the fingers. 

"I did what I could," sobbed INIabel. "I was not hard with 
her. But she would not listen. She kept on crying out for 
the priest as long as she could speak." 

"My dear ..." began the man. Then he, too, went 
down on his knees by his wife, leaned forward and kissed 
the rosary, while tears blinded him. 

"Yes, yes," he said. "Leave her in peace. I would not 
move it for the world: it was her toy, was it not.''" 

The girl stared at him, astonished. 

"We can be generous, too," he said. "We have all the 
world at last. And she — she has lost nothing: it was too 
late." 

"I did what I could." 

"Yes, my darling, and you were right. But she was too 
old ; she could not understand." 

He paused. 

"Euthanasia.?" he whispered with something very like 
tenderness. 

She nodded. 

"Yes," she said; "just as the last agony began. She 
resisted, but I knew you would wish it." 

They talked together for an hour in the garden before 
Oliver went to his room ; and he began to tell her presently 
of all that had passed. 



110 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"He has refused," he said. "We offered to create an office 
for Him ; He was to have been called Consultor, and He re- 
fused it two hours ago. But He has promised to be at our 
service. . . . No, I must not tell you where He is. . . . 
He will return to America soon, we think ; but He will not 
leave us. We have drawn up a programme, and it is to be 
sent to Him presently. . . . Yes, we were unanimous." 

"And the programme.''" 

"It concerns the Franchise, the Poor Laws and Trade. 
I can tell you no more than that. It was He who suggested 
the points. But we are not sure if we understand Him yet." 

"But, my dear " 

"Yes ; it is quite extraordinary. I have never seen such 
things. There was practically no argument." 

"Do the people understand.?" 

"I think so. We shall have to guard against a reaction. 
They say that the Catholics will be in danger. There is 
an article this morning in the Era. The proofs were sent 
to us for sanction. It suggests that means must be taken 
to protect the Catholics." 

Mabel smiled. 

"It is a strange irony," he said. "But they have a right 
to exist. How far they have a right to share in the gov- 
ernment is another matter. That will come before us, I 
think, in a week or two." 

"Tell me more about Him." 

"There is really nothing to tell ; we know nothing, except 
that He is the supreme force in the world. France is in a 
ferment, and has offered him Dictatorship. That, too. He 
has refused. Germany has made the same proposal as our- 
selves ; Italy, the same as France, with the title of Perpetual 



THE ENCOUNTER 111 

Tribune. America has done nothing yet, and Spain is 
divided." 

"And the East.?" 

"The Emperor thanked Him; no more than that." 

Mabel drew a long breath, and stood looking out across 
the heat haze that was beginning to rise from the town be- 
neath. These were matters so vast that she could not take 
them in. But to her imagination Europe lay like a busy 
hive, moving to and fro in the sunshine. She saw the blue 
distance of France, the towns of Germany, the Alps, and 
beyond them the Pyrenees and sun-baked Spain ; and all 
were intent on the same business, to capture if they could 
this astonishing figure that had risen over the world. Sober 
England, too, was alight with zeal. Each country desired 
nothing better than that this man should rule over them; 
and He had refused them all. 

"He has refused them all!" she repeated breathlessly. 

"Yes, all. We think He may be waiting to hear from 
America. He still holds office there, you know." 

"How old is He?" 

"Not more than thirty-two or three. He has only been 
in office a few months. Before that He lived alone in Ver- 
mont. Then He stood for the Senate ; then He made a speech 
or two ; then He was appointed delegate, though no one 
seems to have realised His power. And the rest we know." 

Mabel shook her head meditatively. 

"We know nothing," she said. "Nothing; nothing! 
Where did He learn His languages?" 

"It is supposed that He travelled for many years. But 
no one knows. He has said nothing." 

She turned swiftly to her husband. 



112 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"But what does it all mean? What is His power? Tell 
me, Oliver?" 

He smiled back, shaking his head. 

"Well, Markham said that it was his incorruption — that 
and his oratory ; but that explains nothing." 

"No, it explains nothing," said the girl. 

"It is just personality," went on Oliver, "at least, that's 
the label to use. But that, too, is only a label." 

"Yes, just a label. But it is that. They all felt it in 
Paul's House, and in the streets afterwards. Did you not 
feel it?" 

"Feel it !" cried the man, with shining eyes. "Why, I 
would die for Him !" 

They went back to the house presently, and it was not till 
they reached the door that either said a word about the 
dead old woman who lay upstairs. 

"They are with her now," said INIabel softly. "I will 
communicate with the people." 

He nodded gravely. 

"It had better be this afternoon," he said. "I have a 
spare hour at fourteen o'clock. Oh ! by the way, ^label, 
do you know who took the message to the priest?" 

"I think so." 

"Yes, it was Phillips. I saw him last night. He will 
not come here again." 

"Did he confess it?" 

"He did. He was most offensive." 

But Oliver's face softened again as he nodded to his wife 
at the foot of the stairs, and turned to go up once more 
to his mother's room. 



CHAPTER II 



It seemed to Percy Franklin as he drew near Rome, sliding 
five hundred feet high through the summer dawn, that he 
was approaching the very gates of heaven, or, still better, 
he was as a child coming home. For what he had left be- 
hind him ten hours before in London was not a bad speci- 
men, he thought, of the superior mansions of hell. It was 
a world whence God seemed to have withdrawn Himself, 
leaving it indeed in a state of profound complacency — a 
state without hope or faith, but a condition in which, al- 
though life continued, there was absent the one essential to 
Mell-being. It was not that there was not expectation — 
for London was on tip-toe with excitement. There were 
rumours of all kinds : Felsenburgh was coming back ; he 
was back; he had never gone. He was to be President of 
the Council, Prime Minister, Tribune, with full capacities 
of democratic government and personal sacro-sanctity, even 
King — if not Emperor of the West. The entire constitu- 
tion was to be remodelled, there was to be a complete re- 
arrangement of the pieces ; crime was to be abolished by 
the mysterious power that had killed war; there was to be 
free food — the secret of life was discovered, there was to 
be no more death — so the rumours ran. . . . Yet that was 
lacking, to the priest's mind, which made life worth 
living. . . . 
In Paris, while the volor waited at the great station at 



114 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Montmartre, once known as the Church of the Sacred 
Heart, he had heard the roaring of the mob in love with 
hfe at last, and seen the banners go past. As it rose again 
over the suburbs he had seen the long lines of trains stream- 
ing in, visible as bright serpents in the brilliant glory of 
the electric globes, bringing the country folk up to the 
Council of the Nation which the legislators, mad with 
drama, had summoned to decide the great question. At 
Lyons it had been the same. The night was as clear as the 
day, and as full of sound. Mid France was arriving to 
register its votes. 

He had fallen asleep as the cold air of the Alps began to 
envelop the car, and had caught but glimpses of the 
solemn moonlit peaks below him, the black profundities of 
the gulfs, the silver glint of the shield-like lakes, and the 
soft glow of Interlaken and the towns in the Rhone valley. 
Once he had been moved in spite of himself, as one of the 
huge German volors had passed in the night, a blaze of 
ghostly lights and gilding, resembling a huge moth with 
antennae of electric light, and the two ships had saluted one 
another through half a league of silent air, with a 
pathetic cry as of two strange night-birds who have no 
leisure to pause. Milan and Turin had been quiet, for 
Italy was organised on other principles than France, and 
Florence was not yet half awake. And now the Cam- 
pagna was slipping past like a grey-green rug, wrinkled 
and tumbled, five hundred feet beneath, and Rome was all 
but in sight. The indicator above his seat moved its finger 
from one hundred to ninety miles. 

He shook off the doze at last, and drew out his office book ; 
but as he pronounced the words his attention was elsewhere, 



THE ENCOUNTER 115 

and, when Prime was said, he closed the book once more, 
propped himself more comfortably, drawing the furs round 
him, and stretching his feet on the empty seat opposite. 
He was alone in his compartment ; the three men who had 
come in at Paris had descended at Turin. 

He had been remarkably relieved when the message had 
come three days before from the Cardinal-Protector, bid- 
ding him make arrangements for a long absence from 
England, and, as soon as that was done, to come to Rome. 
He understood that the ecclesiastical authorities were really 
disturbed at last. 

He reviewed the last day or two, considering the report he 
would have to present. Since his last letter, three days 
before, seven notable apostasies had taken place in West- 
minster diocese alone, two priests and five important lay- 
men. There was talk of revolt on all sides ; he had seen a 
threatening document, called a "petition," demanding the 
right to dispense with all ecclesiastical vestments, signed by 
one hundred and twenty priests from England and Wales. 
The "petitioners" pointed out that persecution was coming 
swiftly at the hands of the mob ; that the Government was 
not sincere in the promises of protection ; they hinted that 
religious loyalty was already strained to breaking-point 
even in the case of the most faithful, and that with all 
but those it had already broken. 

And as to his comments Percy was clear. He would tell 
the authorities, as he had already told them fifty times, 
that it was not persecution that mattered; it was this new 
outburst of enthusiasm for Humanity — an enthusiasm 
which had waxed a hundredfold more hot since the coming 



116 LORD OF THE WORLD 

of Felsenburgh and the publication of the Eastern news — 
which was melting the hearts of all but the very few. Man 
had suddenly fallen in love with man. The conventional 
were rubbing their eyes and wondering why they had ever 
believed, or even dreamed, that there was a God to love, 
asking one another what was the secret of the spell that had 
held them so long. Christianity and Theism were passing 
together from the world's mind as a morning mist passes 
when the sun comes up. His recommendations — ? Yes, 
he had those clear, and ran them over in his mind with a 
sense of despair. 

For himself, he scarcely knew if he believed what he pro- 
fessed. His emotions seemed to have been finally ex- 
tinguished in the vision of the white car and the silence 
of the crowd that evening three weeks before. It had been 
so horribly real and positive ; the delicate aspirations and 
hopes of the soul appeared so shadowy when compared with 
that burning, heart-shaking passion of the people. He had 
never seen anything like it ; no congregation under the spell 
of the most kindling preacher alive had ever responded 
with one-tenth of the fervour with which that irreligious 
crowd, standing in the cold dawn of the London streets, 
had greeted the coming of their saviour. And as for the 
man himself — Percy could not analyse what it was that pos- 
sessed him as he had stared, muttering the name of Jesus, 
on that quiet figure in black with features and hair so like 
his own. He only knew that a hand had gripped his heart 
— a hand warm, not cold — and had quenched, it seemed, 
all sense of religious conviction. It had only been with an 
effort that sickened him to remember, that he had refrained 
from that interior act of capitulation that is so familiar to 



THE ENCOUNTER 117 

all who have cultivated an inner life and understand what 
failure means. There had been one citadel that had not 
flung wide its gates — all else had yielded. His emotions had 
been stormed, his intellect silenced, his memory of grace 
obscured, a spiritual nausea had sickened his soul, yet the 
secret fortress of the will had, in an agony, held fast the 
doors and refused to cry out and call Felsenburgh king. 

Ah ! how he had prayed during those three weeks ! It 
appeared to him that he had done little else ; there had been 
no peace. Lances of doubt thrust again and again through 
door and window; masses of argument had crashed from 
above; he had been on the alert day and night, repelling 
this, blindly, and denying that, endeavouring to keep his 
foothold on the slippery plane of the supernatural, send- 
ing up cry after cry to the Lord Who hid Himself. He 
had slept with his crucifix in his hand, he had awakened 
himself by kissing it; while he wrote, talked, ate, walked, 
and sat in cars, the inner life had been busy — making fran- 
tic speechless acts of faith in a religion which his intellect 
denied and from which his emotions shrank. There had 
been moments of ecstasy — now in a crowded street, when 
he recognised that God was all, that the Creator was the 
key to the creature's life, that a humble act of adoration 
was transcendently greater than the most noble natural act, 
that the Supernatural was the origin and end of existence — 
there had come to him such moments in the night, in the 
silence of the Cathedral, when the lamp flickered, and a 
soundless air had breathed from the iron door of the taber- 
nacle. Then again passion ebbed, and left him stranded 
on misery, but set with a determination (which might 
equally be that of pride or faith) that no power in earth 



118 LORD OF THE WORLD 

or hell should hinder him from professing Christianity even 
if he could not realise it. It was Christianity alone that 
made life tolerable. 

Percy drew a long vibrating breath, and changed his posi- 
tion ; for far away his unseeing eyes had descried a dome, 
like a blue bubble set on a carpet of green ; and his brain 
had interrupted itself to tell him that this was Rome. 

He got up presently, passed out of his compartment, and 
moved forward up the central gangway, seeing, as he went, 
through the glass doors to right and left his fellow- 
passengers, some still asleep, some staring out at the view, 
some reading. He put his eye to the glass square in the 
door, and for a minute or two watched, fascinated, the 
steady figure of the steerer at his post. There he stood mo- 
tionless, his hands on the steel circle that directed the vast 
wings, his eyes on the wind-gauge that revealed to hiin 
as on the face of a clock both the force and the direction of 
the high gusts ; now and again his hands moved slightl}'^, 
and the huge fans responded, now lifting, now lowering. 
Beneath him and in front, fixed on a circular table, were the 
glass domes of various indicators — Percy did not know 
the meaning of half — one seemed a kind of barometer, 
intended, he guessed, to declare the height at which they 
were travelling, another a compass. And be3'ond, through 
the curved windows, lay the enormous sk3% Well, it was 
all very wonderful, thought the priest, and it was with the 
force of which all this was but one symptom that the super- 
natural had to compete. 

He sighed, turned, and went back to his compartment. 

It was an astonishing vision that began presently to open 
before him — scarcely beautiful except for its strangeness, 



THE ENCOUNTER 119 

and as unreal as a raised map. Far to his right, as he could 
see through the glass doors, lay the grey line of the sea 
against the luminous sky, rising and falling ever so slightly 
as the car, apparently motionless, tilted imperceptibly 
against the western breeze; the only other movement was 
the faint pulsation of the huge throbbing screw in the rear. 
To the left stretched the limitless country, flitting beneath, 
in glimpses seen between the motionless wings, with here 
and there the streak of a village, flattened out of recog- 
nition, or the flash of water, and bounded far away by the 
low masses of the Umbrian hills ; while in front, seen and 
gone again as the car veered, lay the confused line of Rome 
and the huge new suburbs, all crowned by the great dome 
growing every instant. Around, above and beneath, his 
eyes were conscious of wide air-spaces, overhead deepening 
into lapis-lazuli down to horizons of pale turquoise. The 
only sound, of which he had long ceased to be directly con- 
scious, was that of the steady rush of air, less shrill now as 
the speed began to drop down — down — to forty miles an 
hour. There was a clang of a bell, and immediately he was 
aware of a sense of faint sickness as the car dropped in a 
glorious swoop, and he staggered a little as he grasped his 
rugs together. When he looked again the motion seemed 
to have ceased ; he could see towers ahead, a line of house- 
roofs, and beneath he caught a glimpse of a road and 
more roofs with patches of green between. A bell clanged 
again, and a long sweet cry followed. On all sides he could 
hear the movement of feet; a guard in uniform passed 
swiftly along the glazed corridor; again came the faint 
nausea ; and as he looked up once more from his luggage 
for an instant he saw the dome, grey now and lined, almost 



120 LORD OF THE WORLD 

on a level with his own eyes, huge against the vivid sky. 
The world span round for a moment ; he shut his eyes, and 
when he looked again walls seemed to heave up past him 
and stop, swaying. There was the last bell, a faint vibra- 
tion as the car grounded in the steel-netted dock ; a line of 
faces rocked and grew still outside the windows, and Percy 
passed out towards the doors, carrying his bags. 



II 



He still felt a sense of insecure motion as he sat alone over 
coffee an hour later in one of the remote rooms of the 
Vatican; but there was a sense of exhilaration as well, as 
his tired brain realised where he was. It had been strange 
to drive over the rattling stones in the weedy little cab, 
such as he remembered ten years ago when he had left Rome, 
newly ordained. While the world had moved on, Rome 
had stood still ; she had other affairs to think of than 
physical improvements, now that the spiritual weight of 
the earth rested entirely upon her shoulders. All had 
seemed unchanged — or rather it had reverted to the condi- 
tion of nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. Histories 
related how the improvements of the Italian government 
had gradually dropped out of use as soon as the cit}^ 
eighty years before, had been given her independence; the 
trams ceased to run ; volors were not allowed to enter the 
walls ; the new buildings, permitted to remain, had been 
converted to ecclesiastical use ; the Quirlnal became the 
offices of the "Red Pope" ; the embassies, huge seminaries ; 
even the Vatican itself, with the exception of the upper 



THE ENCOUNTER 121 

floor, had become the abode of the Sacred College, who 
surrounded the Supreme Pontiff as stars their sun. 

It was an extraordinary city, said antiquarians — the one 
living example of the old days. Here were to be seen the 
ancient inconveniences, the insanitary horrors, the incarna- 
tion of a world given over to dreaming. The old Church 
pomp was back, too ; the cardinals drove again in gilt 
coaches ; the Pope rode on his white mule ; the Blessed Sacra- 
ment went through the ill-smelling streets with the sound of 
bells and the light of lanterns. A brilliant description of it 
had interested the civilised world immensely for about 
forty-eight hours ; the appalling retrogression was still 
used occasionally as the text for violent denunciations by 
the poorly educated; the well-educated had ceased to do 
anything but take for granted that superstition and 
progress were irreconcilable enemies. 

Yet Percy, even in the glimpses he had had in the streets, 
as he drove from the volor station outside the People's 
Gate, of the old peasant dresses, the blue and red-fringed 
wine carts, the cabbage-strewn gutters, the wet clothes 
flapping on strings, the mules and horses — strange though 
these were, he had found them a refreshment. It had 
seemed to remind him that man was human, and not divine 
as the rest of the world proclaimed — ^human, and therefore 
careless and individualistic ; human, and therefore occupied 
with interests other than those of speed, cleanliness, and 
precision. 

The room in which he sat now by the window with shad- 
ing blinds, for the sun was already hot, seemed to revert 
back even further than to a century-and-a-half. The old 
damask and gilding that he had expected was gone, and its 



122 LORD OF THE WORLD 

absence gave the impression of great severity. There was 
a wide deal table running the length of the room, with up- 
right wooden arm chairs set against it; the floor was red- 
tiled, with strips of matting for the feet, the white, dis- 
tempered walls had only a couple of old pictures hung upon 
them, and a large crucifix flanked by candles stood on a 
little altar by the further door. There was no more furni- 
ture than that, with the exception of a writing-desk between 
the windows, on which stood a typewriter. That jarred 
somehow on his sense of fitness, and he wondered at it. 

He finished the last drop of coff'ee in the thick-rimmed 
white cup, and sat back in his chair. 

Already the burden was lighter, and he was astonished 
at the swiftness with which it had become so. Life looked 
simpler here; the interior world was taken more for 
granted ; it was not even a matter of debate. There it was, 
imperious and objective, and through it glimmered to the 
eyes of the soul the old Figures that had become shrouded 
behind the rush of worldly circumstance. The very shadow 
of God appeared to rest here; it was no longer impossible 
to realise that the saints watched and interceded, that Mary 
sat on her throne, that the white disc on the altar was Jesus 
Christ. Percy was not yet at peace — after all, he had been 
but an hour in Rome ; and air, charged with never so much 
grace, could scarcely do more than it had done. But he 
felt more at ease, less desperately anxious, more childlike, 
more content to rest on the authority that claimed without 
explanation, and asserted that the world, as a matter of 
fact, proved by evidences without and within, was made 
this way and not that, for this purpose and not the other. 
Yet he had used the conveniences which he hated; he had 



THE ENCOUNTER 123 

left London a bare twelve hours before, and now here he 
sat in a place which was either a stagnant backwater of 
life, or else the very mid-current of it ; he was not yet sure 
which. 

There was a step outside, a handle was turned; and the 
Cardinal-Protector came through. 

Percy had not seen him for four years, and for a moment 
scarcely recognised him. 

It was a very old man that he saw now, bent and feeble, 
his face covered with wrinkles, crowned by very thin, white 
hair, and the little scarlet cap on top ; he was in his black 
Benedictine habit with a plain abbatial cross on his breast, 
and walked hesitatingly, with a black stick. The only 
sign of vigour was in the narrow bright slit of his eyes 
showing beneath drooping lids. He held out his hand, smil- 
ing, and Percy, remembering in time that he was in the 
Vatican, bowed low only as he kissed the amethyst. 

"Welcome to Rome, father," said the old man, speaking 
with an unexpected briskness. "They told me you were 
here half-an-hour ago ; I thought I would leave you to 
wash and have your coflTee." 

Percy murmured something. 

"Yes ; you are tired, no doubt," said the Cardinal, pulling 
out a chair. 

"Indeed not, your Eminence. I slept excellently." 

The Cardinal made a little gesture to a chair. 

"But I must have a word with you. The Holy Father 
wishes to see you at eleven o'clock." 

Percy started a little. 

"We move quickly in these days, father. . . . There is 



124i LORD OF THE WORLD 

no time to dawdle. You understand that jou are to remain 
in Rome for the present?" 

"I have made all arrangements for that, your Eminence." 

"That is very well. . . . We are pleased with you here, 
Father Franklin. The Holy Father has been greatly im- 
pressed by your comments. You have foreseen things in 
a very remarkable manner." 

Percy flushed with pleasure. It was almost the first hint 
of encouragement he had had. Cardinal Martin went on. 

"I may say that you are considered our most valuable 
correspondent — certainly in England. That is why you 
are summoned. You are to help us here in future — a kind 
of consultor : any one can relate facts ; not every one can 
understand them. . . . You look very young, father. How 
old are you.^^" 

"I am thirty-three, your Eminence." 

"Ah ! 3'our white hair helps you. . . . Now, father, will 
you come with me into m^^ room? It is now eight o'clock. 
I will keep you till nine — no longer. Then 3'ou shall have 
some rest, and at eleven I shall take you up to his Holiness." 

Percy rose with a strange sense of elation, and ran to open 
the door for the Cardinal to go through. 



Ill 



At a few minutes before eleven Percy came out of his 
little white-washed room in his new ferraiuola, soutane and 
buckle shoes, and tapped at the door of the Cardinal's 
room. 



THE ENCOUNTER 126 

He felt a great deal more self-possessed now. He had 
talked to the Cardinal freely and strongly, had described 
the effect that Felsenburgh had had upon London, and even 
the paralysis that had seized upon himself. He had stated 
his belief that they were on the edge of a movement un- 
paralleled in history: he related little scenes that he had 
witnessed — a group kneeling before a picture of Felsen- 
burgh, a dying man calling him by name, the aspect 
of the crowd that had waited in Westminster to hear the 
result of the offer made to the stranger. He showed him 
half-a-dozen cuttings from newspapers, pointing out their 
hysterical enthusiasm ; he even went so far as to venture 
upon prophecy, and to declare his belief that persecution 
was within reasonable distance. 

"The world seems very oddly alive," he said; "it is as 
if the whole thing was flushed and nervous." 

The Cardinal nodded. 

"We, too," he said, "even we feel it." 

For the rest the Cardinal had sat watching him out of his 
narrow eyes, nodding from time to time, putting an oc- 
casional question, but listening throughout with great at- 
tention. 

"And your recommendations, father — " he had said, and 
then interrupted himself. "No, that is too much to ask. 
The Holy Father will speak of that." 

He had congratulated him upon his Latin then — for they 
had spoken in that language throughout this second inter- 
view ; and Percy had explained how loyal Catholic Eng- 
land had been in obeying the order, given ten years before, 
that Latin should become to the Church what Esperanto 
was becoming to the world. 



126 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"That is very well," said the old man. "His Holiness will 
be pleased at that." 

At his second tap the door opened and the Cardinal came 
out, taking him by the arm without a word; and together 
they turned to the lift entrance. 

Percy ventured to make a remark as they slid noiselessly 
up towards the papal apartment. 

"I am surprised at the lift, your Eminence, and the type- 
writer in the audience-room." 

"Why, father.?" 

"Why, all the rest of Rome is back in the old days." 

The Cardinal looked at him, puzzled. 

"Is it.? I suppose it is. I never thought of that." 

A Swiss guard flung back the door of the lift, saluted and 
went before them along the plain flagged passage to where 
his comrade stood. Then he saluted again and went back. 
A Pontifical chamberlain, in all the sombre glory of purple, 
black, and a Spanish ruff", peeped from the door, and made 
haste to open it. It really seemed almost incredible that 
such things still existed. 

"In a moment, your Eminence," he said in Latin. "Will 
your Eminence wait here.?" 

It was a little square room, with half-a-dozen doors, 
plainly contrived out of one of the huge old halls, for it was 
immensely high, and the tarnished gilt cornice vanished di- 
rectly in two places into the white walls. The partitions, 
too, seemed thin ; for as the two men sat down there was a 
murmur of voices faintly audible, the shuffling of footsteps, 
and the old eternal click of the typewriter from which Percy 
hoped he had escaped. They were alone in the room, which 



THE ENCOUNTER 127 

was furnished with the same simphclty as the Cardinal's — 
giving the impression of a curious mingling of ascetic pov- 
erty and dignity by its red-tiled floor, its white walls, its 
altar and two vast bronze candlesticks of incalculable value 
that stood on the dais. The shutters here, too, were drawn ; 
and there was nothing to distract Percy from the excitement 
that surged up now tenfold in heart and brain. 

It was Papa Angelicus whom he was about to see ; that 
amazing old man who had been appointed Secretary of 
State just fifty years ago, at the age of thirty, and Pope 
nine years previously. It was he who had carried out the 
extraordinary policy of yielding the churches throughout 
the whole of Italy to the Government, in exchange for the 
temporal lordship of Rome, and who had since set himself 
to make it a city of saints. He had cared, it appeared, 
nothing whatever for the world's opinion ; his policy, so far 
as it could be called one, consisted in a very simple thing: 
he had declared in Epistle after Epistle that the object of 
the Church was to do glory to God by producing supernatu- 
ral virtues in man, and that nothing at all was of any sig- 
nificance or importance except so far as it effected this ob- 
ject. He had further maintained that since Peter was the 
Rock, the City of Peter was the Capital of the world, and 
should set an example to its dependency : this could not be 
done unless Peter ruled his City, and therefore he had sac- 
rificed every church and ecclesiastical building In the coun- 
try for that one end. Then he had set about ruling his 
city: he had said that on the whole the latter-day discov- 
eries of man tended to distract immortal souls from a con- 
templation of eternal verities — not that these discoveries 
could be anytliing but good in themselves, since after all 



128 LORD OF THE WORLD 

the}' gave insight into the wonderful laws of God — but that 
at present they were too exciting to the imagination. So 
he had removed the trams, the volors, the laboratories, the 
manufactories — saying that there was plenty of room for 
them outside Rome — and had allowed them to be planted 
in the suburbs : in their place he had raised shrines, religious 
houses and Calvaries. Then he had attended further to the 
souls of his subjects. Since Rome was of limited area, and, 
still more because the world corrupted without its proper 
salt, he allowed no man under the age of fifty to live within 
its walls for more than one month in each year, except 
those who received his permit. The}" might live, of course, 
immediately outside the city (and they did, by tens of thou- 
sands), but they were to understand that by doing so they 
sinned against the spirit, though not the letter, of their 
Father's washes. Then he had divided the city into national 
quarters, saying that as each nation had its peculiar virtues, 
each was to let its light shine steadily in its proper place. 
Rents had instantly begun to rise, so he had legislated 
against that by reserving in each quarter a number of 
streets at fixed prices, and had issued an ipso facto excom- 
munication against all who erred in this respect. The rest 
were abandoned to the millionaires. He had retained the 
Leonine City entirely at his own disposal. Then he had 
restored Capital Punishment, with as much serene gravity 
as that with which he had made himself the derision of the 
civilised world in other matters, saying that though human 
life was holy, human virtue was more holy still ; and he had 
added to the crime of murder, the crimes of adultery, idola- 
try and apostasy, for which this punishment was theoreti- 
cally sanctioned. There had not been, however, more than 



THE ENCOUNTER 129 

two such executions in the eight years of his reign, since 
criminals, of course, with the exception of devoted beHevers, 
instantly made their way to the suburbs, where they were 
no longer under his jurisdiction. 

But he had not stayed here. He had sent once more am- 
bassadors to every country in the world, informing the 
Government of each of their arrival. No attention was 
paid to this, beyond that of laughter; but he had continued, 
undisturbed, to claim his rights, and, meanwhile, used his 
legates for the important work of disseminating his views. 
Epistles appeared from time to time in every town, laying 
down the principles of the papal claims with as much tran- 
quillity as if they were everywhere acknowledged. Free- 
masonry was steadily denounced, as well as democratic 
ideas of every kind ; men were urged to remember their im- 
mortal souls and the Majesty of God, and to reflect upon 
the fact that in a few years all would be called to give their 
account to Him Who was Creator and Ruler of the world, 
Whose Vicar was John XXIV, P.P., whose name and seal 
were appended. 

That was a line of action that took the world completely 
by surprise. People had expected hysteria, argument, and 
passionate exhortation ; disguised emissaries, plots, and 
protests. There were none of these. It was as if progress 
had not yet begun, and volors were uninvented, as if the 
entire universe had not come to disbelieve in God, and to 
discover that itself was God. Here was this silly old man, 
talking in his sleep, babbling of the Cross, and the inner 
life and the forgiveness of sins, exactly as his predecessors 
had talked two thousand years before. Well, it was only 
one sign more that Rome had lost not only its power, but 



130 LORD OF THE WORLD 

its common sense as well. It was really time that something 
should be done. 

And this was the man, thought Percy, Fapa Angelicus, 
whom he was to see in a minute or two. 

The Cardinal put his hand on the priest's knee as the door 
opened, and a purple prelate appeared, bowing. 

"Only this," he said. "Be absolutely frank." 

Percy stood up, trembling. Then he followed his patron 
towards the inner door. 



IV 

A white figure sat in the green gloom, beside a great writ- 
ing-table, three or four yards away, but with the chair 
wheeled round to face the door by which the two entered. 
So much Percy saw as he performed the first genuflection. 
Then he dropped his eyes, advanced, genuflected again with 
the other, advanced once more, and for the third time genu- 
flected, lifting the thin white hand, stretched out, to his 
lips. He heard the door close as he stood up. 

"Father Franklin, Holiness," said the Cardinal's voice at 
his ear. 

A white-sleeved arm waved to a couple of chairs set a 
yard away, and the two sat down. 

While the Cardinal, talking in slow Latin, said a few 
sentences, explaining that this was the English priest whose 
correspondence had been found so useful, Percy began to 
look with all his eyes. 

He knew the Pope's face well, from a hundred photo- 



THE ENCOUNTER 131 

graphs and moving pictures ; even his gestures were fa- 
miliar to him, the shght bowing of the head in assent, the 
tiny eloquent movement of the hands ; but Percy, with a 
sense of being platitudinal, told himself that the living 
presence was very different. 

It was a very upright old man that he saw in the chair 
before him, of medium height and girth, with hands clasping 
the bosses of his chair-arms, and an appearance of great 
and deliberate dignity. But it was at the face chiefly that 
he looked, dropping his gaze three or four times, as the 
Pope's blue eyes turned on him. They were extraordinary 
eyes, reminding him of what historians said of Pius X. ; 
the lids drew straight lines across them, giving him the look 
of a hawk, but the rest of the face contradicted them. 
There was no sharpness in that. It was neither thin nor 
fat, but beautifully modelled in an oval outline: the lips 
were clean-cut, with a look of passion in their curves ; the 
nose came down in an aquiline sweep, ending in chiselled 
nostrils ; the chin was firm and cloven, and the poise of the 
whole head was strangely youthful. It was a face of great 
generosity and sweetness, set at an angle between defiance 
and humility, but ecclesiastical from ear to ear and brow 
to chin ; the forehead was slightly compressed at the tem- 
ples, and beneath the white cap lay white hair. It had 
been the subject of laughter at the music-halls nine years 
before, when the composite face of well-known priests had 
been thrown on a screen, side by side with the new Pope's, 
for the two were almost indistinguishable. 

Percy found himself trying to sum it up, but nothing 
came to him except the word "priest." It was that, and 
that was all. Ecce sacerdos ma gnus! He was astonished 



132 LORD OF THE WORLD 

at the look of youth, for the Pope was eighty-eight this 
year; 3'et his figure was as upright as that of a man of 
fifty, his shoulders unbowed, his head set on them like an 
athlete's, and his wrinkles scarcely perceptible in the half 
light. Papa Angelicus! reflected Percy. 

The Cardinal ceased his explanations, and made a little 
gesture. Percy drew up all his faculties tense and tight to 
answer the questions that he knew were coming. 

"I welcome you, my son," said a very soft, resonant voice. 

Percy bowed, desperately, from the waist. 

The Pope dropped his eyes again, lifted a paper-weight 
with his left hand, and began to play with it gently as he 
talked. 

"Now, my son, deliver a little discourse. I suggest to you 
three heads — what has happened, what is happening, what 
will happen, with a peroration as to what should happen." 

Percy drew a long breath, settled himself back, clasped the 
fingers of his left hand in the fingers of his right, fixed 
his eyes firmly upon the cross-embroidered red shoe oppo- 
site, and began. (Had he not rehearsed this a hundred 
times!) 

He first stated his theme ; to the effect that all the forces 
of the civilised world were concentrating into two camps — 
the world and God. Up to the present time the forces of the 
world had been incoherent and spasmodic, breaking out in 
various ways — revolutions and wars had been like the move- 
ments of a mob, undisciplined, unskilled, and unrestrained. 
To meet this, the Church, too, had acted through her 
Catholicity — dispersion rather than concentration : franc- 
tireurs had been opposed to franc-tireurs. But during the 



THE ENCOUNTER 133 

last hundred years there had been indications that the 
method of warfare was to change. Europe, at any rate, 
had grown weary of internal strife; the unions first of 
Labour, then of Capital, then of Labour and Capital com- 
bined, illustrated this in the economic sphere ; the peaceful 
partition of Africa in the political sphere; the spread of 
Humanitarian religion in the spiritual sphere. Over 
against this must be placed the increased centralisation of 
the Church. By the wisdom of her pontiffs, over-ruled by 
God Almighty, the lines had been drawing tighter every 
year. He instanced the abolition of all local usages, in- 
cluding those so long cherished by the East, the establish- 
ment of the Cardinal-Protectorates in Rome, the enforced 
merging of all friars into one Order, though retaining their 
familiar names, under the authority of the supreme Gen- 
eral ; all monks, with the exception of the Carthusians, the 
CarmeHtes and the Trappists, into another; of the three 
excepted into a third; and the classification of nuns after 
the same plan. Further, he remarked on the more recent 
decrees, establishing the sense of the Vatican decision on 
infallibility, the new version of Canon Law, the immense 
simplification that had taken place in ecclesiastical govern- 
ment, the hierarch}', rubrics and the affairs of missionary 
countries, with the new and extraordinary privileges 
granted to mission priests. At this point he became aware 
that his self -consciousness had left him, and he began, even 
with little gestures, and a slightly raised voice, to enlarge 
on the significance of the last month's events. 

All that had gone before, he said, pointed to what had 
now actually taken place — namely, the reconciliation of the 
world on a basis other than that of Divine Truth. It was 



134 LORD OF THE WORLD 

the intention of God and of His Vicars to reconcile all men 
in Christ Jesus ; but the comer-stone had once more been 
rejected, and instead of the chaos that the pious had 
prophesied, there was coming into existence a unity unlike 
anything known in history. This was the more deadly 
from the fact that it contained so many elements of in- 
dubitable good. War, apparently, was now extinct, 
and it was not Christianity that had done it ; union 
was now seen to be better than disunion, and the lesson had 
been learned apart from the Church. In fact, natural 
virtues had suddenly waxed luxuriant, and supernatural 
virtues were despised. Friendliness took the place of char- 
ity, contentment the place of hope, and knowledge the place 
of faith. 

Percy stopped, he had become conscious that he was 
preaching a kind of sermon. 
"Yes, my son," said the kind voice. "What else?" 
What else? . . . Very well, continued Percy, movements 
such as these brought forth men, and the Man of this move- 
ment was Julian Felsenburgh. He had accomplished a 
work that — apart from God — seemed miraculous. He had 
broken down the eternal division between East and West, 
coming himself from the continent that alone could produce 
such powers ; he had prevailed by sheer force of personality 
over the two supreme tyrants of life — religious fanaticism 
and party government. His influence over the impassive 
English was another miracle, yet he had also set on fire 
France, Germany, and Spain. Percy here described one 
or two of his little scenes, saying that it was like the vision 
of a god: and he quoted freely some of the titles given to 
the Man by sober, unhysterical newspapers. Felsenburgh 



THE ENCOUNTER 135 

was called the Son of Man, because he was so pure-bred 
a cosmopolitan ; the Saviour of the World, because he had 
slain war and himself survived — even — even — here Percy's 
voice faltered — even Incarnate God, because he was the per- 
fect representative of divine man. 

The quiet, priestly face watching opposite never winced 
or moved ; and he went on. 

Persecution, he said, was coming. There had been a riot 
or two already. But persecution was not to be feared. It 
would no doubt cause apostasies, as it had always done, 
but these were deplorable only on account of the individual 
apostates. On the other hand, it would reassure the faith- 
ful, and purge out the half-hearted. Once, in the early 
ages, Satan's attack had been made on the bodily side, with 
whips and fire and beasts ; in the sixteenth century it had 
been on the intellectual side ; in the twentieth century on 
the springs of moral and spiritual life. Now it seemed as if 
the assault was on all three planes at once. But what was 
chiefly to be feared was the positive influence of Humani- 
tarianism: it was coming, like the kingdom of God, with 
power; it was crushing the imaginative and the romantic, 
it was assuming rather than asserting its own truth ; it was 
smothering with bolsters instead of wounding and stimulat- 
ing with steel or controversy. It seemed to be forcing its 
way, almost objectively, into the inner world. Persons 
who had scarcely heard its name were professing its tenets ; 
priests absorbed it, as they absorbed God in Communion — 
he mentioned the names of the recent apostates — children 
drank it in like Christianity itself. The soul "naturally 
Christian" seemed to be becoming "the soul naturally in- 
fidel." Persecution, cried the priest, was to be welcomed like 



136 LORD OF THE WORLD 

salvation, praj'ed for, and grasped ; but he feared that the 
authorities were too shrewd, and knew the antidote and 
the poison apart. There might be individual martyrdoms 
— in fact there would be, and very many — but they would 
be in spite of secular government, not because of it. 
Finally, he expected, Humanitarianism would presently put 
on the dress of liturgy and sacrifice, and when that was 
done, the Church's cause, unless God intervened, would be 
over. 

Percy sat back, trembling. 

"Yes, my son. And what do you think should be done?" 

Percy flung out his hands. 

"Holy Father — the mass, prayer, the rosary. These first 
and last. The world denies their power : it is on their power 
that Christians must throw all their weight. All things 
in Jesus Christ — in Jesus Christ, first and last. Nothing 
else can avail. He must do all, for we can do nothing." 

The white head bowed. Then it rose erect. 

"Yes, my son. . . . But so long as Jesus Christ deigns 
to use us, we must be used. He is Prophet and King as 
well as Priest. We then, too, must be prophet and king 
as well as priest. What of Prophecy and Royalty .P" 

The voice thrilled Percy like a trumpet. 

"Yes, Holiness. . . . For prophecy, then, let us preach 
charity ; for Royalty, let us reign on crosses. We must 
love and suffer. ..." (He drew one sobbing breath.) 
"Your Holiness has preached charity alwaj's. Let charity 
then issue in good deeds. Let us be foremost in them; let 
us engage in trade honestly, in family life chastely, in gov- 
ernment uprightly. And as for suffering — ah! Holi- 
ness !" 



THE ENCOUNTER 137 

His old scheme leaped back to his mind, and stood poised 
there convincing and imperious. 

"Yes, my son, speak plainly." 

"Your Holiness — it is old — old as Rome — every fool has 
desired it: a new Order, Holiness — a new Order," he stam- 
mered. 

The white hand dropped the paper-weight; the Pope 
leaned forward, looking intently at the priest. 

"Yes, my son?" 

Percy threw himself on his knees. 

"A new Order, Holiness — no habit or badge — subject to 
your Holiness only — freer than Jesuits, poorer than Fran- 
ciscans, more mortified than Carthusians: men and women 
alike — the three vows with the intention of martyrdom ; the 
Pantheon for their Church ; each bishop responsible for 
their sustenance ; a lieutenant in each country. . . , (Holi- 
ness, it is the thought of a fool.) . . . And Christ Cruci- 
fied for their patron." 

The Pope stood up abruptly — so abruptly that Cardinal 
Martin sprang up too, apprehensive and terrified. It 
seemed that this 3oung man had gone too far. 

Then the Pope sat down again, extending his hand. 

"God bless you, my son. You have leave to go. . . . 
Will your Eminence stay for a few minutes?" 



CHAPTER III 



The Cardinal said very little to Percy when they met 
again that evening, beyond congratulating him on the way 
he had borne himself with the Pope. It seemed that the 
priest had done right by his extreme frankness. Then he 
told him of his duties. 

Percy was to retain the couple of rooms that had been 
put at his disposal; he was to say mass, as a rule, in the 
Cardinal's oratory ; and after that, at nine, he was to pre- 
sent himself for instructions : he was to dine at noon with 
the Cardinal, after which he was to consider himself at 
liberty till Ave Maria: then, once more he was to be at 
his master's disposal until supper. The work he would 
principally have to do would be the reading of all 
English correspondence, and the drawing up of a report 
upon it. 

Percy found it a very pleasant and serene life, and the 
sense of home deepened every day. He had an abundance 
of time to himself, which he occupied resolutely in relaxa- 
tion. From eight to nine he usually walked abroad, going 
sedately through the streets with his senses passive, look- 
ing into churches, watching the people, and gradually 
absorbing the strange naturalness of life under ancient 
conditions. At times it appeared to him like an historical 
dream ; at times it seemed that there was no other reality ; 
that the silent, tense world of modem civilisation was itself 



THE ENCOUNTER 139 

a phantom, and that here was the simple naturalness of the 
soul's childhood back again. Even the reading of the Eng- 
lish correspondence did not greatly affect him, for the 
stream of his mind was beginning to run clear again in this 
sweet old channel; and he read, dissected, analysed and 
diagnosed with a deepening tranquillity. 

There was not, after all, a great deal of news. It was 
a kind of lull after storm. Felsenburgh was still in retire- 
ment; he had refused the offers made to him by France 
and Italy, as that of England ; and, although nothing defi- 
nite was announced, it seemed that he was confining himself 
at present to an unofl[icial attitude. Meanwhile the Parlia- 
ments of Europe were busy in the preliminary stages of 
code-revision. Nothing would be done, it was understood, 
until the autumn sessions. 

Life in Rome was very strange. The city had now be- 
come not only the centre of faith but, in a sense, a micro- 
cosm of it. It was divided into four huge quarters — 
Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Teutonic and Eastern — besides 
Trastevere, which was occupied almost entirely by Papal 
oflSces, seminaries, and schools. Anglo-Saxondom occupied 
the southwestern quarter, now entirely covered with houses, 
including the Aventine, the Celian and Testaccio. The 
Latins inhabited old Rome, between the Course and the 
river; the Teutons the northeastern quarter, bounded on 
the south by St. Laurence's Street; and the Easterns the 
remaining quarter, of which the centre was the Lateran. 
In this manner the true Romans were scarcely conscious of 
intrusion ; they possessed a multitude of their own churches, 
they were allowed to revel in narrow, dark streets and hold 
their markets ; and it was here that Percy usually walked, 



140 LORD OF THE WORLD 

in a passion of historical retrospect. But the other quar- 
ters were strange enough, too. It was curious to see how 
a progeny of Gothic churches, served by northern priests, 
had grown up naturally in the Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic 
districts, and how the wide, grey streets, the neat pave-r 
ments, the severe houses, showed how the northerns had not 
yet realised the requirements of southern life. The East- 
erns, on the other hand, resembled the Latins ; their streets 
were as narrow and dark, their smells as overwhelming, 
their churches as dirty and as homely, and their colours 
even more brilliant. 

Outside the walls the confusion was indescribable. If the 
city represented a carved miniature of the world, the sub- 
urbs represented the same model broken into a thousand 
pieces, tumbled in a bag and shot out at random. So far 
as the eye could see, on all sides from the roof of the Vati- 
can, there stretched an endless plain of house-roofs, broken 
by spires, towers, domes and chimneys, under which lived 
human beings of every race beneath the sun. Here were 
the great manufactories, the monster buildings of the new 
world, the stations, the schools, the offices, all under secular 
dominion, yet surrounded by six millions of souls who lived 
here for love of religion. It was these who had despaired 
of modern life, tired out with change and effort, who had 
fled from the new system for refuge to the Church, but 
who could not obtain leave to live in the city itself. New 
houses were continually springing up in all directions. A 
gigantic compass, fixed by one leg in Rome, and with a span 
of five miles, would, if twirled, revolve through packed 
streets through its entire circle. Beyond that too houses 
stretched into the indefinite distance. 



THE ENCOUNTER 141 

But Percy did not realise the significance of all that he 
saw, until the occasion of the Pope's name-day towards the 
end of August. 

It was yet cool and early, when he followed his patron, 
whom he was to serve as chaplain, along the broad passages 
of the Vatican towards the room where the Pope and Cardi- 
nals were to assemble. Through a window, as he looked out 
into the Piazza, the crowd was yet more dense, if that were 
possible, than it had been an hour before. The huge oval 
square was cobbled with heads, through which ran a broad 
road, kept by papal troops for the passage of the car- 
riages ; and up the broad ribbon, white in the eastern light, 
came monstrous vehicles, a blaze of gilding and colour and 
cream tint; slow cheers swelled up and died, and through 
all came the rush and patter of wheels over the stones, like 
the sound of a tide-swept pebbly beach. 

As they waited in an ante-chamber, halted by the pres- 
sure in front and behind — a pack of scarlet and white and 
purple — he looked out again, and reahsed what he had 
known only intellectually before, that here before his eyes 
was the royalty of the old world assembled — and he began 
to perceive its significance. 

Round the steps of the basilica spread a great fan of 
coaches, each yoked to eight horses — the white of France 
and Spain, the black of Germany, Italy and Russia, and 
the cream-coloured of England. Those stood out in the 
near half-circle, and beyond was the sweep of the lesser 
powers: Greece, Norway, Sweden, Roumania and the 
Balkan States. One, the Turk, was alone wanting, he re- 
minded himself. The emblems of some were visible — 
eagles, lions, leopards — guarding the royal crown above the 



142 LORD OF THE WORLD 

roof of each. From the foot of the steps to the head ran 
a broad scarlet carpet, Hned with soldiers. 

Percy leaned against the shutter, and began to meditate. 

Here was all that was left of Royalty. He had seen their 
palaces before, here and there in the various quarters, with 
standards flying, and scarlet-liveried men lounging on the 
steps. He had raised his hat a dozen times as a landau 
thundered past him up the Course ; he had even seen the 
lilies of France and the leopards of England pass together 
in the solemn parade of the Pincian Hill. He had read in 
the papers every now and again during the last five years 
that family after family had made its way to Rome, after 
papal recognition had been granted; he had been told by 
the Cardinal on the previous evening that William of Eng- 
land, with his Consort, had landed at Ostia in the morn- 
ing and that the tale of the Powers was complete. But he 
had never before realised the stupendous, overwhelming fact 
of the assembly of the world's royalty under the shadow 
of Peter's Throne, nor the appalling danger that its pres- 
ence constituted in the midst of a democratic world. That 
world, he knew, affected to laugh at the folly and the child- 
ishness of it all — at the desperate play-acting of Divine 
Right on the part of fallen and despised families ; but the 
same world, he knew very well, had not yet lost quite all 
its sentiment ; and if that sentiment should happen to be- 
come resentful 

The pressure relaxed ; Percy slipped out of the recess, and 
followed in the slow-moving stream. 

Half-an-hour later he was in his place among the ec- 
clesiastics, as the papal procession came out through the 
glimmering dusk of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament 



THE ENCOUNTER 143 

into the nave of the enormous church ; but even before he 
had entered the chapel he heard the quiet roar of recogni- 
tion and the cry of the trumpets that greeted the Supreme 
Pontiff as he came out, a hundred yards ahead, borne on 
the sedia gestatoria, with the fans going behind him. 
When Percy himself came out, five minutes later, walking 
in his quaternion, and saw the sight that was waiting, he 
remembered with a sudden throb at his heart that other 
sight he had seen in London in a summer dawn three months 
before. . . . 

Far ahead, seeming to cleave its way through the surging 
heads, like the poop of an ancient ship, moved the canopy 
beneath which sat the Lord of the world, and between him 
and the priest, as if it were the wake of that same ship, 
swayed the gorgeous procession — Protonotaries Apostohc, 
Generals of Religious Orders and the rest — making its way 
along with white, gold, scarlet and silver foam between 
the living banks on either side. Overhead hung the splen- 
did barrel of the roof, and far in front the haven of God's 
altar reared its monstrous pillars, beneath which burned the 
seven yellow stars that were the harbour lights of sanctity. 
It was an astonishing sight, but too vast and bewildering 
to do anything but oppress the observers with a conscious- 
ness of their own futility. The enormous enclosed air, the 
giant statues, the dim and distant roofs, the indescribable 
concert of sound — of the movement of feet, the murmur of 
ten thousand voices, the peal of organs like the crying of 
gnats, the thin celestial music — the faint suggestive smell 
of incense and men and bruised bay and myrtle — and, su- 
preme above all, the vibrant atmosphere of human emotion, 
shot with supernatural aspiration, as the Hope of the 



144. LORD OF THE WORLD 

World, the holder of Divine Vice-Royalty, passed on his 
way to stand between God and man — this affected the 
priest as the action of a drug that at once lulls and stimu- 
lates, that blinds while it gives new vision, that deafens 
while it opens stopped ears, that exalts while it plunges into 
new gulfs of consciousness. Llere, then, was the other 
formulated answer to the problem of life. The two Cities 
of Augustine lay for him to choose. The one was that of 
a world self-originated, self-organised and self-sufficient, 
interpreted by such men as Marx and Herve, socialists, 
materialists, and, in the end, hedonists, summed up at last 
in Felsenburgh. The other lay displayed in the sight he 
saw before him, telling of a Creator and of a creation, of 
a Divine purpose, a redemption, and a world transcendent 
and eternal from which all sprang and to which all moved. 
One of the two, John and Julian, was the Vicar, and the 
other the Ape, of God. . . . And Percy's heart in one more 
spasm of conviction made its choice. . . . 

But the summit was not yet reached. 

As Percy came at last out from the nave beneath the dome, 
on his way to the tribune beyond the papal throne, he be- 
came aware of a new element. 

A great space was cleared about the altar and confession, 
extending, as he could see at least on his side, to the point 
that marked the entrance to the transepts ; at this point 
ran rails straight across from side to side, continuing the 
lines of the nave. Beyond this red-hung barrier lay a grad- 
ual slope of faces, white and motionless ; a glimmer of steel 
bounded it, and above, a third of the distance down the 
transept, rose in solemn serried array a line of canopies. 
These were of scarlet, like cardinalitial baldachini, but upon 



THE ENCOUNTER 146 

the upright surface of each burned gigantic coats sup- 
ported by beasts and topped b^' crowns. Under each was a 
figure or two — no more — in splendid isolation, and through 
the interspaces between the thrones showed again a misty 
slope of faces. 

His heart quickened as he saw it — as he swept his eyes 
round and across to the right and saw as in a mirror the 
replica of the left in the right transept. It was there then 
that they sat — those lonely survivors of that strange com- 
pany of persons who, till half-a-century ago, had reigned 
as God's temporal Vicegerents with the consent of their sub- 
jects. They were unrecognised, now, save by Him from 
whom they drew their sovereignty — pinnacles clustering 
and hanging from a dome, from which the walls had been 
withdrawn. These were men and women who had learned 
at last that power comes from above, and their title to rule 
came not from their subjects but from the Supreme Ruler 
of all — shepherds without sheep, captains without soldiers 
to command. It was piteous — horribly piteous, yet inspir- 
ing. The act of faith was so sublime ; and Percy's heart 
quickened as he understood it. These, then, men and women 
like himself, were not ashamed to appeal from man to God, 
to assume insignia which the world regarded as playthings, 
but which to them were emblems of supernatural commis- 
sion. Was there not mirrored here, he asked himself, some 
far-off shadow of One Who rode on the colt of an ass amid 
the sneers of the great and the enthusiasm of children ? . . . 

It was yet more kindling as the mass went on, and he 
saw the male sovereigns come down to do their services at 
the altar, and to go to and fro between it and the Throne. 



146 LORD OF THE WORLD 

There they went bareheaded, the stately silent figures. 
The English king, once again Fidei Defensor, bore the 
train in place of the old king of Spain, who, with the Aus- 
trian Emperor, alone of all European sovereigns, had pre- 
served the unbroken continuity of faith. The old man 
leaned over his f aid-stool, mumbling and weeping, even cry- 
ing out now and again in love and devotion, as, like Simeon, 
he saw his Salvation. The Austrian Emperor twice ad- 
ministered the Lavabo; the German sovereign, who had lost 
his throne and all but his life upon his conversion four 
years before, by a new privilege placed and withdrew the 
cushion, as his Lord kneeled before the Lord of them both. 
So movement by movement the gorgeous drama was 
enacted ; the murmuring of the crowds died to a stillness 
that was but one wordless prayer as the tiny White Disc rose 
between the white hands, and the thin angelic music pealed 
in the dome. For here was the one hope of these thou- 
sands, as mighty and as little as once within the Manger. 
There was none other that fought for them but only God. 
Surely then, if the blood of men and the tears of women 
could not avail to move the Judge and Observer of all from 
His silence, surely at least here the bloodless Death of His 
only Son, that once on Calvary had darkened heaven and 
rent the earth, pleaded now with such sorrowful splendour 
upon this island of faith amid a sea of laughter and hatred 
— this at least must avail ! How could it not ? 

Percy had just sat down, tired out with the long cere- 
monies, when the door opened abruptly, and the Cardinal, 
still in his robes, came in swiftly, shutting the door behind 
him. 



THE ENCOUNTER 14i7 

"Father Franklin," he said, in a strange breathless voice, 
**there is the worst of news. Felsenburgh is appointed 
President of Europe." 



II 



It was late that night before Percy returned, completely 
exhaustt-d by his labours. For hour after hour he had sat 
with the Cardinal, opening despatches that poured into the 
electric receivers from all over Europe, and were brought 
in one by one into the quiet sitting-room. Three times in 
the afternoon the Cardinal had been sent for, once by the 
Pope and twice to the Quirinal. 

There was no doubt at all that the news was true ; and it 
seemed that Felsenburgh must have waited deliberately for 
the offer. All others he had refused. There had been a 
Convention of the Powers, each of whom had been anxious 
to secure him, and each of whom had severally failed ; these 
private claims had been withdrawn, and an united message 
sent. The new proposal was to the effect that Felsenburgh 
should assume a position hitherto undreamed of in 
democracy ; that he should receive a House of Government 
in every capital of Europe; that his veto of any measure 
should be final for three years ; that any measure he chose 
to introduce three times in three consecutive years should 
become law ; that his title should be that of President of 
Europe. From his side practically nothing was asked, ex- 
cept that he should refuse any other official position offered 
him that did not receive the sanction of all the Powers. 

And all this, Percy saw very well, involved the danger of 
an united Europe increased tenfold. It involved all the 



148 LORD OF THE WORLD 

stupendous force of Socialism directed by a brilliant in- 
dividual. It was the combination of the strongest char- 
acteristics of the two methods of government. The offer 
had been accepted by Felsenburgh after eight hours' silence. 

It was remarkable, too, to observe how the news had been 
accepted by the two other divisions of the world. The East 
was enthusiastic ; America was divided. But in any case 
America was powerless : the balance of the world was over- 
whelmingly against her. 

Peivy threw himself, as he was, on to his bed, and lay 
there with drumming pulses, closed eyes and a huge despair 
at his heart. The world indeed had risen like a giant over 
the horizons of Rome, and the holy city was no better now 
than a sand castle before a tide. So much he grasped. As 
to how ruin would come, in what form and from what di- 
rection, he neither knew nor cared. Only he knew now that 
it would come. 

He had learned by now something of his own tempera- 
ment ; and he turned his eyes inwards to observe himself 
bitterly, as a doctor in mortal disease might with a dreadful 
complacency diagnose his own symptoms. It was even a re- 
lief to turn from the monstrous mechanism of the world to 
see in miniature one hopeless human heart. For his own 
religion he no longer feared; he knew, as absolutely as a 
man may know the colour of his eyes, that it was secure 
again and beyond shaking. During those weeks in Rome 
the cloudy deposit had run clear and the channel was once 
more visible. Or, better still, that vast erection of dogma, 
ceremony, custom and morals in which he had been edu- 
cated, and on which he had looked all his life (as a man 
may stare upon some great set-piece that bewilders him), 



THE ENCOUNTER 149 

seeing now one spark of light, now another, flare and wane 
in the darkness, had httle by httle kindled and revealed 
itself in one stupendous blaze of divine fire that explains 
itself. Huge principles, once bewildering and even repel- 
lent, were again luminously self-evident ; he saw, for exam- 
ple, that while Humanity-Religion endeavoured to abolish 
suffering the Divine Religion embraced it, so that the blind 
pangs even of beasts were within the Father's Will and 
Scheme; or that while from one angle one colour only of 
the web of life was visible — material, or intellectual, or 
artistic — from another the Supernatural was as eminently 
obvious. Humanity-Religion could only be true if at least 
half of man's nature, aspirations and sorrows were ignored. 
Christianity, on the other hand, at least included and ac- 
counted for these, even if it did not explain them. This 
. . . and this . . . and this ... all made the one and 
perfect whole. There was the Catholic Faith, more certain 
to him than the existence of himself: it was true and alive. 
He might be damned, but God reigned. He might go mad, 
but Jesus Christ was Incarnate Deity, proving Himself so 
by death and Resurrection, and John his Vicar. These 
things were as the bones of the Universe — facts beyond 
doubting — if they were not true, nothing anywhere was 
anj^thing but a dream. 

Difficulties? — Why, there were ten thousand. He did not 
in the least understand why God had made the world as 
it was, nor how Hell could be the creation of Love, nor 
how bread was transubstantiated into the Body of God — 
but — well, these things Mere so. He had travelled far, he 
began to see, from his old status of faith, when he had be- 
lieved that divine truth could be demonstrated on intellec- 



150 LORD OF THE WORLD 

tual grounds. He had learned now (he knew not how) 
that the supernatural cried to the supernatural; the Christ 
without to the Christ within ; that pure human reason in- 
deed could not contradict, yet neither could it adequately 
prove the mysteries of faith, except on premisses visible 
only to him who receives Revelation as a fact, that it is the 
moral state, rather than the intellectual, to which the Spirit 
of God speaks with the greater certitude. That which he 
had both learned and taught he now knew, that Faith, hav- 
ing, like man himself, a body and a spirit — an historical 
expression and an inner verity — speaks now by one, now 
by another. This man believes because he sees — accepts the 
Incarnation or the Church from its credentials ; that man, 
perceiving that these things are spiritual facts, yields him- 
self wholly to the message and authority of her who alone 
professes them, as well as to the manifestation of them 
upon the historical plane ; and in the darkness leans upon 
her arm. Or, best of all, because he has believed, now he 
sees. 

So he looked with a kind of interested indolence at other 
tracts of his nature. 

First, there was his intellect, puzzled beyond description, 
demanding, Why, why, why.? Why was it allowed.'' How 
was it conceivable that God did not intervene, and that the 
Father of men could permit His dear world to be so 
ranged against Him.'* What did He mean to do.^* Was 
this eternal silence never to be broken? It was very well 
for those that had the Faith, but what of the countless mil- 
lions who were settling down in contented blasphemy.'' 
Were these not, too. His children and the sheep of His pas- 
ture.'' What was the Catholic Church made for if not to 



THE ENCOUNTER 151 

convert the world, and why then had Almighty God allowed 
it, on the one side, to dwindle to a handful, and, on the 
other, the world to find its peace apart from Him? 

He considered his emotions, but there was no comfort 
there, no stimulus. Oh ! yes ; he could pray still, by mere 
cold acts of the will, and his theology told him that God 
accepted such. He could say "Adveniat regnum tuum. 
. . . Fiat voluntas tua" five thousand times a day, if God 
wanted that; but there was no sting or touch, no sense of 
vibration through the cords that his will threw up to the 
Heavenly Throne. What in the world then did God want 
him to do.? Was it just then to repeat formulas, to lie 
still, to open despatches, to listen through the telephone, 
and to suffer. 

And then the rest of the world — the madness that had 
seized upon the nations ; the amazing stories that had 
poured in that day of the men in Paris, who, raving like 
Bacchantes, had stripped themselves naked in the Place de 
Concorde, and stabbed themselves to the heart, crying out 
to thunders of applause that life was too enthralling to be 
endured ; of the woman who sang herself mad last night in 
Spain, and fell laughing and foaming in the concert hall 
at Seville ; of the crucifixion of the Cathohcs that morning 
in the Pyrenees, and the apostasy of three bishops in Ger- 
many. . . . And this . . . and this . . . and a thousand 
more horrors were permitted, and God made no sign and 
spoke no word. . . . 

There was a tap, and Percy sprang up as the Cardinal 
came in. 

He looked horribly worn; and his eyes had a kind of 



152 LORD OF THE WORLD 

sunken brilliance that revealed fever. He made a little mo- 
tion to Percy to sit down, and himself sat in the deep chair, 
trembling a little, and gathering his buckled feet beneath 
his red-buttoned cassock. 

"You must forgive me, father," he said. "I am anxious 
for the Bishop's safety. He should be here by now." 

This was the Bishop of Southwark, Percy remembered, 
who had left England early that morning. 

"He is coming straight through, your Eminence.?" 

"Yes ; he should have been here by twenty-three. It is 
after midnight, is it not ?" 

As he spoke, the bells chimed out the half-hour. 

It was nearly quiet now. All day the air had been full of 
sound ; mobs had paraded the suburbs ; the gates of the 
City had been barred, yet that was only an earnest of what 
was to be expected when the world understood itself. 

The Cardinal seemed to recover himself after a few min- 
utes' silence. 

"You look tired out, father," he said kindly. 

Percy smiled. 

"And your Eminence.''" he said. 

The old man smiled too. 

"Why, yes," he said. "I shall not last much longer, 
father. And then it will be you to suffer." 

Percy sat up, suddenly, sick at heart. 

"Why, yes," said the Cardinal. "The Holy Father has 
arranged it. You are to succeed me, you know. It need 
be no secret." 

Percy drew a long trembling breath. 

"Eminence," he began piteously. 

The other lifted a thin old hand. 



THE ENCOUNTER 163 

"I understand all that," he said softly. "You wish to die, 
is it not so? — and be at peace. There are many who wish 
that. But we must suffer first. Et pati et mori. Father 
Franklin, there must be no faltering." 

There was a long silence. 

The news was too stunning to convey anything to the 
priest but a sense of horrible shock. The thought had 
simply never entered his mind that he, a man under forty, 
should be considered eligible to succeed this wise, patient 
old prelate. As for the honour — Percy was past that now, 
even had he thought of it. There was but one view before 
him — of a long and intolerable journey, on a road that 
went uphill, to be traversed with a burden on his shoulders 
that he could not support. 

Yet he recognised its inevitability. The fact was an- 
nounced to him as indisputable ; it was to be ; there was 
nothing to be said. But it was as if one more gulf had 
opened, and he stared into it with a dull, sick horror, in- 
capable of expression. 

The Cardinal first broke the silence. 

"Father Franklin," he said, "I have seen to-day a picture 
of Felscnburgh. Do you know whom I at first took it for.''" 

Percy smiled listlessly. 

"Yes, father, I took it for you. Now, what do you make 
of that?" 

"I don't understand, Eminence." 

"Why — " He broke off, suddenly changing the sub- 
ject. 

"There was a murder in the City to-day," he said. "A 
Catholic stabbed a blasphemer." 

Percy glanced at him again. 



154. LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Oh ! yes ; he has not attempted to escape," went on the 
old man. "He is in gaol." 

"And " 

"He will be executed. The trial will begin to-morrow. 
. . . It is sad enough. It is the first murder for eight 
months." 

The irony of the position was evident enough to Percy as 
he sat listening to the deepening silence outside in the star- 
lit night. Here was this poor city pretending that noth- 
ing was the matter, quietly administering its derided jus- 
tice; and there, outside, were the forces gathering that 
would put an end to all. His enthusiasm seemed dead. 
There was no thrill from the thought of the splendid disre- 
gard of material facts of which this was one tiny instance, 
none of despairing courage or drunken recklessness. He 
felt hke one who watches a fly washing his face on the 
cylinder of an engine — the huge steel slides along bearing 
the tiny life towards enormous death — another moment and 
it will be over ; and yet the watcher cannot interfere. The 
supernatural thus lay, perfect and alive, but immeasurably 
tiny ; the huge forces were in motion, the world was heaving 
up, and Percy could do nothing but stare and frown. Yet, 
as has been said, there was no shadow on his faith ; the fly 
he knew was greater than the engine from the superiority 
of its order of life ; if it were crushed, life would not be the 
final suff^erer; so much he knew, but hoAV it was so, he did 
not know. 

As the two sat there, again came a step and a tap ; and a 
servant's face looked in. 

"His Lordship is come. Eminence," he said. 

The Cardinal rose painfully, supporting himself by the 



THE ENCOUNTER 155 

table. Then he paused, seeming to remember something, 
and fumbled in his pocket. 

"See that, father," he said, and pushed a small silver disc 
towards the priest. "No ; when I am gone." 

Percy closed the door and came back, taking up the little 
round object. 

It was a coin, fresh from the mint. On one side was the 
familiar wreath with the word "fivepence" in the midst, with 
its Esperanto equivalent beneath, and on the other the 
profile of a man, with an inscription. Percy turned it to 
read: 

"Julian Felsenburgh, la Prezidante de Uropo." 



Ill 



It was at ten o'clock on the following morning that the 
Cardinals were summoned to the Pope's presence to hear 
the allocution. 

Percy, from his seat among the Consultors, watched them 
come in, men of every nation and temperament and age — 
the Italians all together, gesticulating, and flashing teeth ; 
the Anglo-Saxons steady-faced and serious ; an old French 
Cardinal leaning on his stick, walking with the English 
Benedictine. It was one of the great plain stately rooms 
of which the Vatican now chiefly consisted, seated length- 
wise like a chapel. At the lower end, traversed by the gang- 
way, were the seats of the Consultors ; at the upper end, 
the dais with the papal throne. Three or four benches 
with desks before them, standing out beyond the Consul- 



156 LORD OF THE WORLD 

tors' seats, were reserved for the arrivals of the day before 
— prelates and priests who had poured into Rome from 
every European country on the announcement of the amaz- 
ing news. 

Percy had not an idea as to what would be said. It was 
scarcely possible that nothing but platitudes would be ut- 
tered, yet what else could be said in view of the complete 
doubtfulness of the situation? All that was known even 
this morning was that the Presidentship of Europe was a 
fact ; the little silver coin he had seen witnessed to that ; 
that there had been an outburst of persecution, repressed 
sternly by local authorities ; and that Felsenburgh was to- 
day to begin his tour from capital to capital. He was 
expected in Turin by the end of the week. From every 
Catholic centre throughout the world had come in mes- 
sages imploring guidance ; it was said that apostasy 
was rising like a tidal wave, that persecution threatened 
everywhere, and that even bishops were beginning to 
yield. 

As for the Holy Father, all was doubtful. Those who 
knew, said nothing ; and the only rumour that escaped was 
to the effect that he had spent all night in prayer at the 
tomb of the Apostle. . . . 

The murmur died suddenly to a rustle and a silence ; there 
was a ripple of sinking heads along the seats as the door 
beside the canopy opened, and a moment later John, Pater 
Patrum, was on his throne. 

At first Percy understood nothing. He stared only, as at 
a picture, through the dusty sunlight that poured in through 
the shrouded windows, at the scarlet lines to right and left, 



THE ENCOUNTER 157 

up to the huge scarlet canopy, and the white figure that sat 
there. Certainly, these southerners understood the power 
of effect. It was as vivid and impressive as a vision of the 
Host in a jewelled monstrance. Every accessory was gor- 
geous, the high room, the colour of the robes, the chains 
and crosses, and as the eye moved along to its climax it was 
met by a piece of dead white — as if glory was exhausted 
and declared itself impotent to tell the supreme secret. 
Scarlet and purple and gold were well enough for those 
who stood on the steps of the throne — they needed it ; but 
for Him who sat there nothing was needed. Let colours 
die and sounds faint in the presence of God's Viceroy. Yet 
what expression was required found itself adequately pro- 
vided in that beautiful oval face, the poised imperious 
head, the sweet brilliant eyes and the clean-curved lips that 
spoke so strongly. There was not a sound in the room, 
not a rustle, nor a breathing — even without it seemed as if 
the world were allowing the supernatural to state its de- 
fence uninterruptedly, before summing up and clamouring 
condemnation. 

Percy made a violent effort at self-repression, clenched 
his hands and listened. 

"... Since this then is so, sons in Jesus Christ, it is 
for us to answer. We wrestle not, as the Doctor of the 
Gentiles teaches us, against flesh and blood, but against 
principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world 
of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the 
high places. Wherefore, he continues, take unto you the 
armour of God; and he further declares to us its nature — 
the girdle of truth, the breastplate of justice, the shoes of 



158 LORD OF THE WORLD 

peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the 
sword of the Spirit. 

"By this, therefore, the Word of God bids us to war, but 
not with the weapons of this world, for neither is His 
kingdom of this world; and it is to remind you of the 
principles of this warfare that we have summoned you to 
Our Presence." 

The voice paused, and there was a rustling sigh along the 
seats. Then the voice continued on a slightly higher note. 

"It has ever been the wisdom of Our predecessors, as is 
also their duty, while keeping silence at certain seasons, at 
others to speak freely the whole counsel of God. From 
this duty We Ourself must not be deterred by the knowledge 
of Our own weakness and ignorance, but to trust rather 
that He Who has placed Us on this throne will deign to 
speak through Our mouth and use Our words to His glory. 

"First, then, it is necessary to utter Our sentence as to the 
new movement, as men call it, which has latterly been in- 
augurated by the rulers of this world. 

"We are not unmindful of the blessings of peace and 
unity, nor do We forget that the appearance of these 
things has been the fruit of much that we have condemned. 
It is this appearance of peace that has deceived many, 
causing them to doubt the promise of the Prince of Peace 
that it Is through Him alone that we have access to the 
Father. That true peace, passing understanding, concerns 
not only the relations of men between themselves, but, su- 
premely, the relations of men with their Maker; and it is 
in this necessary point that the efforts of the world are 
found wanting. It Is not Indeed to be wondered at that 
in a world which has rejected God this necessary matter 



THE ENCOUNTER 159 

should be forgotten. Men have thought — led astray by 
seducers — that the unity of nations was the greatest prize 
of this life, forgetting the words of our Saviour, Who 
said that He came to bring not peace but a sword, and that 
it is through many tribulations that we enter God's King- 
dom. First, then, there should be established the peace of 
man with God, and after that the unity of man with man 
will follow. Seek ye first, said Jesus Christ, the kingdom 
of God — and then all these things shall he added unto you. 

"First, then, We once more condemn and anathematise the 
opinions of those who teach and believe the contrary of 
this ; and we renew once more all the condemnations uttered 
by Ourself or Our predecessors against all those societies, 
organisations and communities that have been formed for 
the furtherance of an unity on another than a divine 
foundation ; and We remind Our children throughout the 
world that it is forbidden to them to enter or to aid or to 
approve in any manner whatsoever any of those bodies 
named in such condemnations." 

Percy moved in his seat, conscious of a touch of impa- 
tience. . . . The manner was superb, tranquil and stately 
as a river ; but the matter a trifle banal. Here was this old 
reprobation of Freemasonry, repeated in unoriginal lan- 
guage. 

"Secondly," went on the steady voice, "We wish to make 
known to you Our desires for the future ; and here We tread 
on what many have considered dangerous ground." 

Again came that rustle. Percy saw more than one cardi- 
nal lean forward with hand crooked at ear to hear the bet- 
ter. It was evident that something important was coming. 

"There are many points," went on the high voice, "of 



160 LORD OF THE WORLD 

which it is not Our intention to speak at this time, for of 
their own nature they are secret, and must be treated of on 
another occasion. But what We say here, We say to the 
world. Since the assaults of Our enemies are both open and 
secret, so too must be Our defences. This then is Our in- 
tention." 

The Pope paused again, lifted one hand as if mechani- 
cally to his breast, and grasped the cross that hung there. 

"While the army of Christ is one, it consists of many 
divisions, each of which has its proper function and ob- 
ject. In times past God has raised up companies of His 
servants to do this or that particular work — the sons of 
St. Francis to preach poverty, those of St. Bernard to la- 
bour in prayer with all holy women dedicating themselves 
to this purpose, the Society of Jesus for the education of 
youth and the conversion of the heathen — together with all 
the other Religious Orders whose names are known through- 
out the world. Each such company was raised up at a 
particular season of need, and each has corresponded nobly 
with the divine vocation. It has also been the especial 
glory of each, for the furtherance of its intention, while 
pursuing its end, to cut off from itself all such activities 
(good in themselves) which would hinder that work for 
which God had called it into being — following in this mat- 
ter the words of our Redeemer, Every branch that beareth 
fruit. He purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit. 
At this present season, then, it appears to Our Humility 
that all such Orders (which once more We commend and 
bless) are not perfectly suited by the very conditions of 
their respective Rules to perform the great work which the 
time requires. Our warfare lies not with ignorance in par- 



THE ENCOUNTER 161 

ticular, whether of the heathens to whom the Gospel has not 
yet come, or of those whose fathers have rejected it, nor 
with the deceitful riches of this •world, nor with science 
falsely so-called, nor indeed with any one of those strong- 
holds of infidelity against whom We have laboured in the 
past. Rather it appears as if at last the time was come 
of which the apostle spoke when he said that that day shall 
not come, except there come a falling axcay first, and that 
Man of Sin he revealed, the Son of Perdition, who oppos- 
eth and exalteth himself above all that is called God. 

"It is not with this or that force that we are concerned, 
but rather with the unveiled immensity of that power whose 
time was foretold, and whose destruction is prepared." 

The voice paused again, and Percy gripped the rail be- 
fore him to stay the trembling of his hands. There was 
no rustle now, nothing but a silence that tingled and 
shook. The Pope drew a long breath, turned his head 
slowly to right and left, and went on more dehberately 
than ever. 

"It seems good, then, to Our Humility, that the Vicar 
of Christ should himself invite God's children to this new 
warfare ; and it is Our intention to enroll under the title 
of the Order of Christ Crucified the names of all who 
offer themselves to this supreme service. In doing this We 
are aware of the novelty of Our action, and the disregard 
of all such precautions as have been necessary in the past. 
We take counsel in this matter with none save Him Who 
we believe has inspired it. 

"First, then, let Us say, that although obedient service 
will be required from all who shall be admitted to this Or- 
der, Our primary intention in instituting it lies in God's 



162 LORD OF THE WORLD 

regard rather than in man's, in appealing to Him Who 
asks our generosity rather than to those who deny it, and 
dedicating once more by a formal and deliberate act our 
souls and bodies to the heavenly Will and service of Him 
Who alone can rightly claim such offering, and will ac- 
cept our poverty. 

"Briefly, we dictate only the following conditions. 

"None shall be capable of entering the Order except such 
as shall be above the age of seventeen years. 

"No badge, habit, nor insignia shall be attached to it. 

"The Three Evangelical Counsels shall be the founda- 
tion of the Rule, to which we add a fourth intention, 
namely, that of a desire to receive the crown of martyrdom 
and a purpose of embracing it. 

"The bishop of every diocese, if he himself shall enter the 
Order, shall be the superior within the limits of his own 
jurisdiction, and alone shall be exempt from the literal ob- 
servance of the Vow of Poverty so long as he retains his 
see. Such bishops as do not feel the vocation to the Order 
shall retain their sees under the usual conditions, but shall 
have no Religious claim on the members of the Order. 

"Further, We announce Our intention of Ourself entering 
the Order as its supreme prelate, and of making Our pro- 
fession within the course of a few days. 

"Further, We declare that in Our Own pontificate none 
shall be elevated to the Sacred College save those who have 
made their profession in the Order; and We shall dedicate 
shortly the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul as the central 
church of the Order, in which church We shall raise to the 
altars without any delay those happy souls who shall lay 
down their lives in the pursuance of their vocation. 



THE ENCOUNTER 163 

"Of that vocation it is unnecessary to speak beyond indi- 
cating that it may be pursued under any conditions laid 
down by the Superiors. As regards the novitiate, its condi- 
tions and requirements, we shall shortly issue the neces- 
sary directions. Each diocesan superior (for it is Our 
hope that none will hold back) shall have all such rights 
as usually appertain to Religious Superiors, and shall be 
empowered to employ his subjects in any work that, in his 
opinion, shall subserve the glory of God and the salvation 
of souls. It is Our Own intention to employ in Our service 
none except those who shall make their profession." 

He raised his eyes once more, seemingly without emotion, 
then he continued: 

"So far, then. We have determined. On other matters We 
shall take counsel immediately ; but it is Our wish that these 
words shall be communicated to all the world, that there 
may be no delay in making known what it is that Christ 
through His Vicar asks of all who profess the Divine Name. 
We offer no rewards except those which God Himself has 
promised to those that love Him, and lay down their life 
for Him ; no promise of peace, save of that which passeth 
understanding ; no home save that which befits pilgrims and 
sojourners who seek a City to come; no honour save the 
world's contempt ; no life, save that which is hid with Christ 
in God." 



CHAPTER IV 



Oliver Brand, seated in his little private room at White- 
hall, was expecting a visitor. It was already close upon 
ten o'clock, and at half -past he must be in the House. He 
had hoped that Mr. Francis, whoever he might be, would 
not detain him long. Even now, every moment was a 
respite, for the work had become simply prodigious during 
the last weeks. 

But he was not reprieved for more than a minute, for the 
last boom from the Victoria Tower had scarcely ceased to 
throb when the door opened and a clerkly voice uttered the 
name he was expecting. 

Oliver shot one quick look at the stranger, at his droop- 
ing lids and down-turned mouth, summed him up fairly 
and accurately in the moments during which they seated 
themselves, and went briskly to business. 

"At twenty-five minutes past, sir, I must leave this room," 
he said. "Until then — " he made a little gesture. 

Mr. Francis reassured him. 

"Thank you, Mr. Brand — that is ample time. Then, if 
you will excuse me — " He groped in his breast-pocket, 
and drew out a long envelope. 

"I will leave this with you," he said, "when I go. It sets 
out our desires at length and our names. And this is what I 
have to say, sir." 



THE ENCOUNTER 165 

He sat back, crossed his legs, and went on, with a touch 
of eagerness in his voice. 

"I am a kind of deputation, as you know," he said. "We 
have something both to ask and to offer. I am chosen be- 
cause it was my own idea. First, may I ask a question.'"' 

OHver bowed. 

"I wish to ask nothing that I ought not. But I beheve 
it is practically certain, is it not? — that Divine Worship 
is to be restored throughout the kingdom?" 

Oliver smiled. 

"I suppose so," he said. "The bill has been read for the 
third time, and, as you know, the President is to speak 
upon it this evening." 

"He will not veto it?" 

"We suppose not. He has assented to it in Germany." 

"Just so," said Mr. Francis. "And if he assents here, I 
suppose it will become law immediately." 

OHver leaned over this table, and drew out the green 
paper that contained the Bill. 

"You have this, of course — " he said. "Well, it becomes 
law at once ; and the first feast will be observed on the first 
of October. 'Paternity,' is it not? Yes, Paternity." 

"There will be something of a rush then," said the other 
eagerly. "Why, that is only a week hence." 

"I have not charge of this department," said Oliver, lay- 
ing back the Bill. "But I understand that the ritual will 
be that alread}' in use in Germany. There is no reason why 
we should be peculiar." 

"And the Abbey will be used?" 

"Why, yes." 

"Well, sir," said ^Ir. Francis, "of course I know the Gov- 



166 LORD OF THE WORLD 

emment Commission has studied it all very closely, and no 
doubt has its own plans. But it appears to me that th^y 
will want all the experience they can get." 

"No doubt." 

"Well, Mr. Brand, the society which I represent consists 
entirely of men who were once Catholic priests. We num- 
ber about two hundred in London. I will leave a pamphlet 
with you, if I may, stating our objects, our constitution, 
and so on. It seemed to us that here was a matter in which 
our past experience might be of service to the Govern- 
ment. Catholic ceremonies, as you know, are very intricate, 
and some of us studied them very deeply in old days. We 
used to say that Masters of Ceremonies were born, not 
made, and we have a fair number of those amongst us. But 
indeed every priest is something of a ceremonialist." 

He paused. 

"Yes, Mr. Francis.?" 

"I am sure the Government realises the immense im- 
portance of all going smoothly. If Divine Service was at 
all grotesque or disorderly, it would largely defeat its own 
object. So I have been deputed to see you, Mr. Brand, and 
to suggest to you that here is a body of men — reckon it as 
at least twenty-five — who have had special experience in 
this kind of thing, and are perfectly ready to put them- 
selves at the disposal of the Government." 

Oliver could not resist a faint flicker of a smile at the 
comer of his mouth. It was a very grim bit of irony, he 
thought, but it seemed sensible enough. 

"I quite understand, Mr. Francis. It seems a very reason- 
able suggestion. But I do not think I am the proper per- 
son. Mr. Snowford — " 



THE ENCOUNTER 16T 

"Yes, yes, sir, I know. But your speech the other day in- 
spired us all. You said exactly what was in all our hearts — 
that the world could not live without worship ; and that 

now that God was found at last " 

Oliver waved his hand. He hated even a touch of flattery. 

"It is very good of you, Mr. Francis. I will certainly 
speak to Mr. Snowford. I understand that you offer your- 
selves as — as Masters of Ceremonies .f"' 

"Yes, sir; and sacristans. I have studied the German 
ritual very carefully ; it is more elaborate than I had 
thought it. It will need a good deal of adroitness. I imag- 
ine that you will want at least a dozen Ceremoniarii in the 
Abbey ; and a dozen more in the vestries will scarcely be too 
much." 

Oliver nodded abruptly, looking curiously at the eager 
pathetic face of the man opposite him ; yet it had some- 
thing, too, of that mask-like priestly look that he had seen 
before in others like him. This was evidently a devotee. 

"You are all Masons, of course.?'* he said. 

"Why, of course, Mr. Brand." 

"Very good. I will speak to Mr. Snowford to-day if I 
can catch him." 

He glanced at the clock. There were yet three or four 
minutes. 

"You have seen the new appointment in Rome, sir," went 
on Mr. Francis. 

Oliver shook his head. He was not particularly interested 
in Rome just now. 

"Cardinal Martin is deed — he died on Tuesday — and his 
place is already filled." 

"Indeed, sir.?" 



168 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Yes — the new man was once a friend of mine — Franklin, 
his name is — Percy Frankhn." 

"Eh?" 

"What is the matter, Mr. Brand? Did you know him?" 

Ohver was eyeing him darkly, a little pale. 

"Yes ; I knew him," he said quietly. "At least, I think 
so." 

"He was at Westminster until a month or two ago." 

"Yes, yes," said Oliver, still looking at him. "And you 
knew him, Mr. Francis?" 

"I knew him — yes." 

"Ah ! — well, I should like to have a talk some day about 
him." 

He broke off. It yet wanted a minute to his time. 

"And that is all?" he asked. 

"That is all my actual business, sir," answered the other. 
"But I hope you will allow me to say how much we all 
appreciate what you have done, ]\Ir. Brand. I do not think 
it is possible for any, except ourselves, to understand what 
the loss of worship means to us. It was very strange at 
first " 

His voice trembled a little, and he stopped. Oliver felt 
interested, and checked himself in his movement to rise. 

"Yes, Mr. Francis.?" 

The melancholy brown eyes turned on him full. 

"It was an illusion, of course, sir — we know that. But I, 
at any rate, dare to hope that it was not all wasted — all our 
aspirations and penitence and praise. We mistook our 
God, but none the less it reached Him — it found its way 
to the Spirit of the World. It taught us that the individual 
was nothing, and that He was all. And now " 



THE ENCOUNTER 169 

"Yes, sir," said the other softly. Ke was really touched. 

The sad brown eyes opened full. 

"And now Mr. Felsenburgh is come." He swallowed in 
his throat. "Julian Felsenburgh !" There was a world 
of sudden passion in his gentle voice, and Oliver's own 
heart responded. 

"I know, sir," he said; "I know all that you mean." 

"Oh ! to have a Saviour at last !" cried Francis. "One 
that can be seen and handled and praised to His Face ! It 
is like a dream — too good to be true!" 

Oliver glanced at the clock, and rose abruptly, holding out 
his hand. 

"Forgive me, sir. I must not sta}'. You have touched 
me very deeply. ... I w^ill speak to Snowford. Your 
address is here, I understand.''" 

He pointed to the papers. 

"Yes, Mr. Brand. There is one more question." 

"I must not sta}', sir," said Oliver, shaking his head. 

"One instant — is it true that this worship will be com- 
pulsory .''" 

Oliver bowed as he gathered up his papers. 



II 



Mabel, seated in the gallery that evening behind the 
President's chair, had already glanced at her watch half- 
a-dozen times in the last hour, hoping each time that 
twenty-one o'clock was nearer than she feared. She knew 
well enough by now that the President of Europe would 
not be half-a-minute either before or after his time. 



170 LORD OF THE WORLD 

His supreme punctuality was famous all over the conti- 
nent. He had said Twenty-One, so it was to be twenty- 
one. 

A sharp bell-note impinged from beneath, and in a mo- 
ment the drawling voice of the speaker stopped. Once more 
she lifted her wrist, saw that it wanted five minutes of the 
hour; then she leaned forward from her corner and stared 
down into the House. 

A great change had passed over it at the metallic noise. All 
down the long brown seats members were shifting and ar- 
ranging themselves more decorously, uncrossing their legs, 
slipping their hats beneath the leather fringes. As she 
looked, too, she saw the President of the House coming 
down the three steps from his chair, for Another would 
need it in a few moments. 

The house was full from end to end; a late comer ran 
in from the twilight of the south door and looked dis- 
tractedly about him in the full light before he saw his va- 
cant place. The galleries at the lower end were occupied 
too, down there, where she had failed to obtain a seat. Yet 
from all the crowded interior there was no sound but a sibi- 
lant whispering; from the passages behind she could hear 
again the quick bell-note repeat itself as the lobbies were 
cleared ; and from Parliament Square outside once more 
came the heavy murmur of the crowd that had been in- 
audible for the last twenty minutes. When that ceased 
she would know that he was come. 

How strange and wonderful it was to be here — on this 
night of all, when the President was to speak ! A month 
ago he had assented to a similar Bill in Germany, and had 
delivered a speech on the same subject at Turin. To- 



THE ENCOUNTER 171 

morrow he was to be in Spain. No one knew where he had 
been during the past week. A rumour had spread that 
his volor had been seen passing over Lake Como, and had 
been instantly contradicted. No one knew either what 
he would say to-night. It might be three words or twenty 
thousand. There were a few clauses in the Bill — notably 
those bearing on the point as to when the new worship 
was to be made compulsory on all subjects over the age 
of seven — it might be he would object and veto these. In 
that case all must be done again, and the Bill re-passed, 
unless the House accepted his amendment instantly by ac- 
clamation. 

Mabel herself was inclined to these clauses. They pro- 
vided that, although worship was to be offered in every 
parish church of England on the ensuing first day of 
October, this was not to be compulsory on all subjects till 
the New Year ; whereas, Germany, who had passed the Bill 
only a month before, had caused it to come into full force 
immediately, thus compelling all her Catholic subjects 
either to leave the country without delay or suffer the 
penalties. These penalties were not vindictive: on a first 
offence a week's detention only was to be given ; on the 
second, one month's imprisonment ; on the third, one year's ; 
and on the fourth, perpetual imprisonment until the crimi- 
nal yielded. These were merciful terms, it seemed ; for even 
imprisonment itself meant no more than reasonable con- 
finement and employment on Government works. There 
were no mediaeval horrors here ; and the act of worship de- 
manded was so little, too ; it consisted of no more than 
bodily presence in the church or cathedral on the four new 
festivals of IVIaternity, Life, Sustenance and Paternity, 



172 LORD OF THE WORLD 

celebrated on the first day of each quarter. Sunday wor- 
ship was to be purely voluntary. 

She could not understand how any man could refuse 
this homage. These four things were facts — they were 
the manifestations of what she called the Spirit of the 
World— and if others called that Power God, yet surely 
these ought to be considered as His functions. Where then 
was the difficulty .f' It was not as if Christian worship were 
not permitted, under the usual regulations. Catholics 
could still go to mass. And yet appalling things were 
threatened in Germany : not less than twelve thousand per- 
sons had already left for Rome ; and it was rumoured that 
forty thousand would refuse this simple act of homage a 
few days hence. It bewildered and angered her to think 
of it. 

For herself the new worship was a crowning sign of the 
triumph of Humanity. Her heart had yearned for some 
such thing as this — some public corporate profession of 
what all now believed. She had so resented the dulness of 
folk who were content with action and never considered its 
springs. Surely this instinct within her was a true one ; she 
desired to stand with her fellows in some solemn place, con- 
secrated not by priests but by the will of man ; to have as 
her inspirers sweet singing and the peal of organs ; to utter 
her sorrow with thousands beside her at her own feebleness 
of immolation before the Spirit of all ; to sing aloud her 
praise of the glory of life, and to offer by sacrifice and 
incense an emblematic homage to That from which she drew 
her being, and to whom one day she must render it again. 
Ah ! these Christians had understood human nature, she had 
told herself a hundred times : it was true that they had de- 



THE ENCOUNTER 173 

graded it, darkened light, poisoned thought, misinterpreted 
instinct ; but they had understood that man must worship 
— must worship or sink. 

For herself she intended to go at least once a week to the 
little old church half-a-mile away from her home, to kneel 
there before the sunlit sanctuary, to meditate on sweet mys- 
teries, to present herself to That \\hich she was yearning to 
love, and to drink, it might be, new draughts of life and 
power. 

Ah! but the Bill must pass first. . . . She clenched her 
hands on the rail, and stared steadily before her on the 
ranks of heads, the open gangways, the great mace on the 
table, and heard, above the murmur of the crowd outside 
and the dying whispers within, her own heart beat. 

She could not see Him, she knew. He would come in 
from beneath through the door that none but He might 
use, straight into the seat beneath the canopy. But she 
would hear His voice — that must be joy enough for 
her. . . . 

Ah ! there was silence now outside ; the soft roar had died. 
He had come then. And through swimming eyes she saw 
the long ridges of heads rise beneath her, and through 
drumming ears heard the murmur of many feet. All faces 
looked this way ; and she watched them as a mirror to see 
the reflected light of His presence. There was a gentle 
sobbing somewhere in the air — was it her own or another's.'' 
. . . the click of a door; a great mellow booming over- 
head, shock after shock, as the huge tenor bells tolled their 
three strokes ; and, in an instant, over the white faces 
passed a ripple, as if some breeze of passion shook the 
souls within ; there was a swaying here and there ; and a 



174 LORD OF THE WORLD 

passionless voice spoke half a dozen words in Esperanto, 
out of sight: 
"Englishmen, I assent to the Bill of Worship." 



Ill 



It was not until mid-day breakfast on the following morn- 
ing that husband and wife met again. Oliver had slept in 
town and telephoned about eleven o'clock that he would be 
home immediately, bringing a guest with him : and shortly 
before noon she heard their voices in the hall. 

Mr. Francis, who was presently introduced to her, seemed 
a harmless kind of man, she thought, not interesting, 
though he seemed in earnest about this Bill. It was not 
until breakfast was nearly over that she understood who 
he was. 

"Don't go, Mabel," said her husband, as she made 
a movement to rise. "You will like to hear about this, I 
expect. My wife knows all that I know," he added. 

Mr. Francis smiled and bowed. 

"I may tell her about you, sir?" said Oliver again. 

"Why, certainly." 

Then she heard that he had been a Catholic priest a few 
months before, and that Mr. Snowford was in consultation 
with him as to the ceremonies in the Abbey. She was con- 
scious of a sudden interest as she heard this. 

"Oh ! do talk," she said. "I want to hear cver^'thing." 

It seemed that Mr. Francis had seen t!ie new INIinister of 
Public Worship that morning, and had received a definite 
commission from him to take charge of the ceremonies on 



THE ENCOUNTER 176 

the first of October. Two dozen of his colleagues, too, were 
to be enrolled among the ceremoniari'i, at least temporarily 
— and after the event they were to be sent on a lecturing 
tour to organise the national worship throughout the 
country. 

Of course things would be somewhat sloppy at first, said 
Mr. Francis ; but by the New Year it was hoped that all 
would be in order, at least in the cathedrals and principal 
towns. 

"It is important," he said, "that this should be done as 
soon as possible. It is very necessary to make a good im- 
pression. There are thousands who have the instinct of 
worship, without knowing how to satisfy it." 

"That is perfectly true," said Oliver. "I have felt that 
for a long time. I suppose it is the deepest instinct in 
man." 

"As to the ceremonies — " went on the other, with a 
slightly important air. His eyes roved round a moment ; 
then he dived into his breast-pocket, and drew out a thin 
red-covered book. 

"Here is the Order of Worship for the Feast of Pa- 
ternity," he said. "I have had it interleaved, and have made 
a few notes." 

He began to turn the pages, and Mabel, with considerable 
excitement, drew her chair a little closer to listen. 

"That is right, sir," said the other. "Now give us a little 
lecture." 

Mr. Francis closed the book on his finger, pushed his plate 
aside, and began to discourse. 

"First," he said, "we must remember that this ritual is 
based almost entirely upon that of the Masons. Three- 



176 LORD OF THE WORLD 

quarters at least of the entire function will be occupied 
by that. With that the ceremoniarii will not interfere, be- 
yond seeing that the insignia are ready in the vestries and 
properly put on. The proper officials will conduct the rest. 
... I need not speak of that then. The difficulties begin 
with the last quarter." 

He paused, and with a glance of apology began arrang- 
ing forks and glasses before him on the cloth. 

"Now here," he said, "we have the old sanctuary of the 
abbe}^ In the place of the rercdos and Communion table 
there Avill be erected the large altar of which the ritual 
speaks, with the steps leading up to it from the floor. Be- 
hind the altar — extending almost to the old shrine of the 
Confessor — will stand the pedestal with the emblematic fig- 
ure upon it ; and — so far as I understand from the absence 
of directions — each such figure will remain in place until 
the eve of the next quarterly feast." 

"What kind of figure?" put in the girl. 

Francis glanced at her husband. 

"I understand that Mr. Markenheim has been consulted," 
he said. "He will design and execute them. Each is to 
represent its own feast. This for Paternity " 

He paused again. 

"Yes, Mr. Francis.?" 

"This one, I understand, is to be the naked figure of a 
man." 

"A kind of Apollo — or Jupiter, my dear," put in 
Oliver. 

Yes — that seemed all right, thought Mabel. Mr. Fran- 
cis's voice moved on hastily. 

"A new procession enters at this point, after the dis- 



THE ENCOUNTER 177 

course," he said. "It is this that will need special marshall- 
ing. I suppose no rehearsal will be possible.''" 

"Scarcely," said Oliver, smiling. 

The Master of Ceremonies sighed. 

"I feared not. Then we must issue very precise printed 
instructions. Those who take part will withdraw, I imag- 
ine, during the hymn, to the old chapel of St. Faith. That 
is what seems to me the best." 

He indicated the chapel. 

"After the entrance of the procession all will take their 
places on these two sides — here — and here — while the cele- 
brant with the sacred ministers " 

"Eh.?" 

Mr. Francis permitted a slight grimace to appear on his 
face ; he flushed a little. 

"The President of Europe " He broke off. "Ah! 

that is the point. Will the President take part? That is 

not made clear in the ritual." 

. "We think so," said Oliver. "He is to be approached." 

"Well, if not, I suppose the Minister of Public Worship 
will officiate. He with his supporters pass straight up to 
the foot of the altar. Remember that the figure is still 
veiled, and that the candles have been lighted during the 
approach of the procession. There follow the Aspirations 
printed in the ritual with the responds. These are sung 
by the choir, and will be most impressive, I think. Then the 
officiant ascends the altar alone, and, standing, declaims 
the Address, as it is called. At the close of it — at the point, 
that is to say, marked here with a star, the thurifers will 
leave the chapel, four in number. One ascends the altar, 
leaving the others swinging their thuribles at its foot — 



178 LORD OF THE WORLD 

hands his to the officiant and retires. Upon the sounding 
of a bell the curtains are drawn back, the officiant censes 
the image in silence with four double swings, and, as he 
ceases the choir sings the appointed antiphon." 

He waved his hands. 

"The rest is easy," he said. "We need not discuss that." 

To Mabel's mind even the previous ceremonies seemed easy 
enough. But she was undeceived. 

"You have no idea, Mrs. Brand," went on the cere- 
moniarius, "of the difficulties involved even in such a simple 
matter as this. The stupidity of people is prodigious. I 
foresee a great deal of hard work for us all. . . . Who is 
to deliver the discourse, Mr. Brand.''" 

Oliver shook his head. 

"I have no idea," he said. "I suppose Mr. Snowford will 
select." 

Mr. Francis looked at him doubtfully. 

"What is your opinion of the whole affair, sir?" he said. 

Oliver paused a moment. 

"I think it is necessary," he began. "There would not be 
such a cry for worship if it was not a real need. I think 
too — yes, I think that on the whole the ritual is impressive. 
I do not see how it could be bettered. ..." 

"Yes, Oliver.?" put in his wife, questioningly. 

"No — there is nothing — except . . . except I hope the 
people will understand it." 

Mr. Francis broke in : 

"My dear sir, worship involves a touch of mystery. You 
must remember that. It was the lack of that that made 
Empire Day fail in the last century. For myself, I think 
it is admirable. Of course much must depend on the man- 



THE ENCOUNTER 179 

ner in which it is presented. I see many details at present 
undecided — the colour of the curtains, and so forth. But 
the main plan is magnificent. It is simple, impressive, and, 
above all, it is unmistakable in its main lesson " 

"And that you take to be .?" 

"I take it that it is homage offered to Life," said the 
other slowly. "Life under four aspects — Maternity corre- 
sponds to Christmas and the Christian fable ; it is the feast 
of home, love, faithfulness. Life itself is approached in 
spring, teeming, young, passionate. Sustenance in mid- 
summer, abundance, comfort, plenty, and the rest, corre- 
sponding somewhat to the Catholic Corpus Christi; and 
Paternity, the protective, generative, masterful idea, as 
winter draws on. ... I understand it was a German 
thought." 

Oliver nodded. 

"Yes," he said. "And I suppose it will be the business 
of the speaker to explain all this." 

"I take it so. It appears to me far more suggestive than 
the alternative plan — Citizenship, Labour, and so forth. 
These, after all, are subordinate to Life." 

Mr. Francis spoke with an extraordinary suppressed 
enthusiasm, and the priestly look was more evident 
than ever. It was plain that his heart at least demanded 
worship. 

Mabel clasped her hands suddenly. 

"I think it is beautiful," she said softly, "and — and it 
is so real." 

Mr. Francis turned on her with a glow in his brown eyes. 

"Ah! yes, madam. That is it. There is no Faith, as 
we used to call it : it is the vision of Facts that no one can 



180 LORD OF THE WORLD 

doubt; and the incense declares the sole divinity' of Life 
as well as its mystery." 

"What of the figures ?" put in Oliver. 

"A stone image is impossible, of course. It must be clay 
for the present. Mr. Markenheim is to set to work im- 
mediately. If the figures are approved they can then be exe- 
cuted in marble." 

Again Mabel spoke with a soft gravit3\ 

"It seems to me," she said, "that this is the last thing that 
we needed. It is so hard to keep our principles clear — 
we must have a body for them — some kind of expres- 
sion " 

She paused. 

"Yes, Mabel.?" 

"I do not mean," she went on, "that some cannot live with- 
out it, but many cannot. The unimaginative need con- 
crete images. There must be some channel for their 
aspirations to flow through — Ah! I cannot express 
myself !" 

Oliver nodded slowly. He, too, seemed to be in a medita- 
tive mood. 

"Yes," he said. "And this, I suppose, will mould men's 
thoughts too : it will keep out all danger of superstition." 

Mr. Francis turned on him abruptly. 

"What do you think of the Pope's new Religious Order, 
sir.?" 

Oliver's face took on it a tinge of grimness. 

"I think it is the worst step he ever took — for himself, I 
mean. Either it is a real effort, in which case it will pro- 
voke immense indignation — or it is a sham, and will dis- 
credit him. Why do you ask.?" 



THE ENCOUNTER 181 

"I was wondering whether any disturbance will be made 
in the abbey." 

"I should be sorry for the brawler." 

A bell rang sharply from the row of telephone labels. 
Oliver rose and went to it. Mabel watched him as he 
touched a button — mentioned his name, and put his ear to 
the opening. 

"It is Snowford's secretary," he said abruptly to the two 
expectant faces. "Snowf ord wants to — ah !" 

Again he mentioned his name and listened. They heard 
a sentence or two from him that seemed significant. 

"Ah! that is certain, is it.? I am sorry. . . . Yes. . . . 
Oh ! but that is better than nothing. . . . Yes ; he is 
here. . . . Indeed. Very well; we will be with you di- 
rectly." 

He looked on the tube, touched the button again, and 
came back to them. 

"I am sorry," he said. "The President will take no part 
at the Feast. But it is uncertain whether he will not be pres- 
ent. Mr. Snowford wants to see us both at once, INIr. 
Francis. Markenheim is with him." 

But though Mabel was herself disappointed, she thought 
he looked graver than the disappointment warranted. 



CHAPTER V 



Percy Franklin, the new Cardinal-Protector of England, 
came slowly along the passage leading from the Pope's 
apartments, with Hans Steinmann, Cardinal-Protector of 
Germany, blowing at his side. They entered the lift, still 
in silence, and passed out, two splendid vivid figures, one 
erect and virile, the other bent, fat, and very German from 
spectacles to flat buckled feet. 

At the door of Percy's suite, the Englishman paused, 
made a little gesture of reverence, and went in without a 
word. 

A secretary, young Mr. Brent, lately from England, 
stood up as his patron came in. 

"Eminence," he said, "the English papers are come." 

Percy put out a hand, took a paper, passed on into his 
inner room, and sat down. 

There it all was — gigantic headlines, and four columns 
of print broken by startling title phrases in capital let- 
ters, after the fashion set by America a hundred years ago. 
No better way even yet had been found of misinforming 
the unintelligent. 

He looked at the top. It was the English edition of the 

Era. Then he read the headlines. They ran as follows: 

"The National Worship. Bewildering Splendour. 

Religious Enthusiasm. The Abbey and God. 

Catholic Fanatic. Ex-Priests as Functionaries." 



THE ENCOUNTER 183 

He ran his eyes down the page, reading the vivid little 
phrases, and drawing from the whole a kind of impression- 
ist view of the scenes in the Abbey on the previous day, 
of which he had already been informed by the telegraph, 
and the discussion of which had been the purpose of his in- 
terview just now with the Holy Father. 

There plainly was no additional news ; and he was laying 
the paper down when his eye caught a name. 

"It is understood that Mr. Francis, the ceremoniarius (to 
whom the thanks of all are due for his reverent zeal and 
skill), will proceed shortly to the northern towns to lecture 
on the Ritual. It is interesting to reflect that this gentle- 
man only a few months ago was officiating at a Catholic 
altar. He was assisted in his labours by twenty-four con- 
freres with the same experience behind them." 

"Good God!" said Percy aloud. Then he laid the paper 
down. 

But his thoughts had soon left this renegade behind, and 
once more he was running over in his mind the significance 
of the whole affair, and the advice that he had thought it 
his duty to give just now upstairs. 

Briefly, there was no use in disputing the fact that the 
inauguration of Pantheistic worship had been as stupen- 
dous a success in England as in Germany. France, by 
the way, was still too busy with the cult of human individ- 
uals, to develop larger ideas. 

But England was deeper; and, somehow, in spite of 
prophecy, the aff^air had taken place without even a touch 
of bathos or grotesqueness. It had been said that Eng- 
land was too solid and too humorous. Yet there had been 
extraordinary scenes the day before. A great murmur of 



184. LORD OF THE WORLD 

enthusiasm had rolled round the Abbey from end to end as 
the gorgeous curtains ran back, and the huge masculine 
figure, majestic and overwhelming, coloured with exquisite 
art, had stood out above the blaze of candles against the tall 
screen that shrouded the shrine. Markenheim had done 
his work well ; and Mr. Brand's passionate discourse had 
well prepared the popular mind for the revelation. He had 
quoted in his peroration passage after passage from the 
Jewish prophets, telling of the City of Peace whose walls 
rose now before their eyes. 

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of 
the Lord is risen upon thee. . . . For behold I create new 
heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be re- 
membered nor come into mind. . . . Violence shall no more 
be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction zvithin thy 
borders. thou so long afflicted, tossed with tempest and 
not comforted; behold I will lay thy stones with fair 
colours, and thy foundations with sapphires. . . . I will 
make thy windows of agates and thy gates of carbuncles, 
and all thy borders of pleasant stones. Arise, shine, for 
thy light is come." 

As the chink of the censer-chains had sounded in the 
stillness, with one consent the enormous crowd had fallen 
on its knees, and so remained, as the smoke curled up from 
the hands of the rebel figure who held the thurible. Then 
the organ had begun to blow, and from the huge massed 
chorus in the transepts had rolled out the antliem, broken 
by one passionate cry, from some mad Catholic. But it 
had been silenced In an instant. . . . 

It was Incredible — utterly incredible, Percy had told him- 
self. Yet the incredible had happened; and England had 



THE ENCOUNTER 186 

found its worship once more — the necessary culmination 
of unimpeded subjectivity. From the provinces had come 
the like news. In cathedral after cathedral had been the 
same scenes. Markenheim's masterpiece, executed in four 
days after the passing of the bill, had been reproduced by 
the ordinary machinery, and four thousand replicas had 
been despatched to every important centre. Telegraphic 
reports had streamed into the London papers that every- 
where the new movement had been received with acclama- 
tion, and that human instincts had found adequate expres- 
sion at last. If there had not been a God, mused Percy 
reminiscently, it would have been necessary to invent one. 
He was astonished, too, at the skill with which the new cult 
had been framed. It moved round no disputable points ; 
there was no possibility of divergent political tendencies 
to mar its success, no over-insistence on citizenship, labour 
and the rest, for those who were secretly individualistic and 
idle. Life was the one fount and centre of it all, clad in 
the gorgeous robes of ancient worship. Of course the 
thought had been Felsenburgh's, though a German name 
had been mentioned. It was Positivism of a kind, Catholi- 
cism without Christianity, Humanity worship without its 
inadequacy. It was not man that was worshipped but the 
Idea of man, deprived of his supernatural principle. 
Sacrifice, too, was recognised — the instinct of oblation 
without the demand made by transcendent Holiness upon 
the blood-guiltiness of man. ... In fact, — in fact, said 
Percy, it was exactly as clever as the devil, and as old as 
Cain. 

The advice he had given to the Holy Father just now was 
a counsel of despair, or of hope ; he really did not know 



186 LORD OF THE WORLD 

which. He had urged that a stringent decree should be 
issued, forbidding any acts of violence on the part of Cath- 
olics. The faithful were to be encouraged to be patient, to 
hold utterly aloof from the worship, to say nothing un- 
less they were questioned, to suffer bonds gladly. He had 
suggested, in company with the German Cardinal, that they 
two should return to their respective countries at the close 
of the year, to encourage the waverers ; but the answer had 
been that their vocation was to remain in Rome, unless 
something unforeseen happened. 

As for Felsenburgh, there was little news. It was said 
that he was in the East; but further details were secret. 
Percy understood quite well why he had not been present 
at the worship as had been expected. First, it would have 
been difficult to decide between the two countries that had 
established it ; and, secondly, he was too brilliant a poli- 
tician to risk the possible association of failure with his 
own person ; thirdly, there was something the matter with 
the East. 

This last point was difficult to understand ; it had not yet 
become explicit, but it seemed as if the movement of last 
year had not yet run its course. It was undoubtedly diffi- 
cult to explain the new President's constant absences from 
his adopted continent, unless there was something that de- 
manded his presence elsewhere; but the extreme discretion 
of the East and the stringent precautions taken by the Em- 
pire made it impossible to know any details. It was appar- 
ently connected with religion ; there were rumours, portents, 
prophets, ecstatics there. 

Upon Percy himself had fallen a subtle change which he 



THE ENCOUNTER 187 

himself was recognising. He no longer soared to confidence 
or sank to despair. He said his mass, read his enormous 
correspondence, meditated strictly ; and, though he felt 
nothing he knew everything. There was not a tinge of 
doubt upon his faith, but neither was there emotion in it. 
He was as one who laboured in the depths of the earth, 
crushed even in imagination, yet conscious that somewhere 
birds sang, and the sun shone, and water ran. He under- 
stood his own state well enough, and perceived that he had 
come to a reality of faith that was new to him, for it was 
sheer faith — sheer apprehension of the Spiritual — without 
either the dangers or the joys of imaginative vision. He 
expressed It to himself by saying that there were three 
processes through which God led the soul : the first was that 
of external faith, which assents to all things presented by 
the accustomed authority, practises religion, and is neither 
interested nor doubtful ; the second follows the quickening 
of the emotional and perceptive powers of the soul, and is 
set about with consolations, desires, mystical visions and 
perils ; it is In this plane that resolutions are taken and 
vocations found and shipwrecks experienced ; and the third, 
mysterious and inexpressible, consists in the re-enactment 
in the purely spiritual sphere of all that has preceded (as 
a play follows a rehearsal), in which God is grasped but 
not experienced, grace is absorbed unconsciously and even 
distastefully, and little by little the inner spirit is conformed 
in the depths of its being, far within the spheres of emo- 
tion and intellectual perception, to the image and mind of 
Christ. 

So he lay back now, thinking, a long, stately, scarlet fig- 
ure, in his deep chair, staring out over Holy Rome seen 



188 LORD OF THE WORLD 

through tlic misty September haze. How long, he won- 
dered, would there be peace? To his eyes even already the 
air was black with doom. 

He struck his hand-bell at last. 

"Bring me Father Blackmore's last report," he said, as 
his secretary appeared. 



II 



Percy's intuitive faculties were keen by nature and had 
been vastly increased by cultivation. He had never for- 
gotten Father Blackmore's shrewd remarks of a year ago; 
and one of his first acts as Cardinal-Protector had been to 
appoint that priest on the list of English correspondents. 
Hitherto he had received some dozen letters, and not one of 
them had been without its grain of gold. Especially he had 
noticed that one warning ran through them all, namely, 
that sooner or later there would be some overt act of provo- 
cation on the part of English Catholics ; and it was the 
memory of this that had inspired his vehement entreaties to 
the Pope this morning. As in the Roman and African 
persecutions of the first three centuries, so now, the great- 
est danger to the Catholic community lay not in the unjust 
measures of the Government but in the indiscreet zeal of 
the faithful themselves. The world desired nothing better 
than a handle to its blade. The scabbard was already cast 
away. 

When the young man had brought the four closely written 
sheets, dated from Westminster, the previous evening, 



THE ENCOUNTER 189 

Percy turned at once to the last paragraph before the 
usual Recommendations. 

"Mr. Brand's late secretary, Mr. Phillips, whom your 
Eminence commended to me, has been to see me two or 
three times. He is in a curious state. He has no faith; 
yet, intellectually, he sees no hope anywhere but in the 
Catholic Church. He has even begged for admission to 
the Order of Christ Crucified, which of course is impos- 
sible. But there is no doubt he is sincere; otherwise he 
would have professed Catholicism. I have introduced him 
to many Catholics in the hope that they may help him. I 
should much wish your Eminence to see him." 

Before leaving England, Percy had followed up the ac- 
quaintance he had made so strangely over Mrs. Brand's 
reconciliation to God, and, scarcely knowing why, had 
commended him to the priest. He had not been particularly 
impressed by Mr. Phillips ; he had thought him a timid, 
undecided creature, yet he had been struck by the extremely 
unselfish action by which the man had forfeited his posi- 
tion. There must surely be a good deal behind. 

And now the impulse had come to send for him. Perhaps 
the spiritual atmosphere of Rome would precipitate faith. 
In any case, the conversation of Mr. Brand's late secretary 
might be instructive. 

He struck the bell again. 

"Mr. Brent," he said, "in your next letter to Father 
Blackmore, tell him that I wish to see the man whom he 
proposed to send — Mr. Phillips." 

"Yes, Eminence." 

"There is no hurry. He can send him at his leisure." 

"Yes, Eminence." 



190 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"But he must not come till January. That will be time 
enough, unless there is urgent reason." 
"Yes, Eminence." 

The development of the Order of Christ Crucified had 
gone forward with almost miraculous success. The appeal 
issued by the Holy Father throughout Christendom had 
been as fire among stubble. It seemed as if the Christian 
world had reached exactly that point of tension at which a 
new organisation of this nature was needed, and the re- 
sponse had startled even the most sanguine. Practically 
the whole of Rome with its suburbs — three millions in all 
— had run to the enrolling stations in St. Peter's as starv- 
ing men run to food, and desperate to the storming of a 
breach. For day after day the Pope himself had sat en- 
throned below the altar of the Chair, a glorious, radiant 
figure, growing ever white and weary towards evening, 
imparting his Blessing with a silent sign to each individual 
of the vast crowd that swarmed up between the barriers, 
fresh from fast and Communion, to kneel before his new 
Superior and kiss the Pontifical ring. The requirements 
had been as stringent as circumstances allowed. Each pos- 
tulant was obliged to go to confession to a specially au- 
thorised priest, who examined sharply into motives and 
sincerity, and only one-third of the applicants had been 
accepted. This, the authorities pointed out to the scorn- 
ful, was not an excessive proportion ; for it was to be re- 
membered that most of those who had presented them- 
selves had already undergone a sifting fierce as fire. Of 
the three millions in Rome, two millions at least were exiles 
for their faith, preferring to live obscure and despised in 



THE ENCOUNTER 191 

the shadow of God rather than in the desolate glare of their 
own infidel countries. 

On the fifth evening of the enrolment of novices an aston- 
ishing incident had taken place. The old King of Spain 

(Queen Victoria's second son), already on the edge of the 
grave, had just risen and tottered before his Ruler; it 
seemed for an instant as if he would fall, when the Pope 
himself, by a sudden movement, had risen, caught him in 
his arms and kissed him ; and then, still standing, had 
spread his arms abroad and delivered a fervorino such 
as never had been heard before in the history of the 
basilica. 

"Benedictus Dominus!" he cried, with upraised face and 
shining eyes. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for 
He hath visited and redeemed His people. I, John, Vicar 
of Christ, Servant of Servants, and sinner among sinners, 
bid you be of good courage in the Name of God. By Him 
Who hung on the Cross, I promise eternal life to all who 
persevere in His Order. He Himself has said it. To him 
that overcometh I will give a crorvn of life. 

"Little children ; fear not him that killeth the body. There 
is no more that he can do. God and His Mother are 
amongst us. ..." 

So his voice had poured on, telling the enormous awe- 
stricken crowd of the blood that already had been shed on 
the place where they stood, of the body of the Apostle that 
lay scarcely fifty yards away, urging, encouraging, inspir- 
ing. They had vowed themselves to death, if that 
were God's Will ; and if not, the intention would be taken 
for the deed. They were under obedience now; their wills 
were no longer theirs but God's : under chastity — for their 



192 LORD OF THE WORLD 

bodies were bought with a price ; under poverty, and theirs 
was the kingdom of heaven. 

He had ended by a great silent Benediction of the City 
and the World: and there were not wanting a half-dozen 
of the faithful who had seen, they thought, a white shape 
in the form of a bird that hung in the air while he spoke — 
white as a mist, translucent as water. . . . 

The consequent scenes in the city and suburbs had been 
unparalleled, for thousands of families had with one con- 
sent dissolved human ties. Husbands had found their way 
to the huge houses on the Quirinal set apart for them ; wives 
to the Aventine ; while the children, as confident as their 
parents, had swarmed over to the Sisters of St. Vincent 
who had received at the Pope's orders the gift of three 
streets to shelter them in. Everywhere the smoke of burn- 
ing went up in the squares where household property, ren- 
dered useless by the vows of poverty, were consumed by 
their late owners ; and daily long trains moved out from 
the station outside the walls carrying jubilant loads of 
those who were despatched by the Pope's delegates to be 
the salt of men, consumed in their function, and leaven 
plunged in the vast measures of the infidel world. And that 
infidel world welcomed their coming with bitter laughter. 

From the rest of Christendom had poured in news of suc- 
cess. The same precautions had been observed as in Rome, 
for the directions issued were precise and searching ; and 
day after day came in the long rolls of the new Religious 
drawn up by the diocesan superiors. 

Within the last few days, too, other lists had arrived, 
more glorious than all. Not only did reports stream in 
that already the Order was beginning its work and that 



THE ENCOUNTER 193 

already broken communications were being re-established, 
that devoted missioners were in process of organising them- 
selves, and that hope was once more rising in the most des- 
perate hearts; but better than all this was the tidings of 
victory in another sphere. In Paris forty of the new- 
born Order had been burned alive in one day in the Latin 
quarter, before the Government intervened. From Spain, 
Holland, Russia had come in other names. In Diisscldorf 
eighteen men and boys, surprised at their singing of Prime 
in the church of Saint Laurence, had been cast down one 
by one into the city-sewer, each chanting as he vanished: 

"Christi Fill Dei vivi miserere nobis," 
and from the darkness had come up the same broken song 
till it was silenced with stones. Meanwhile, the German 
prisons were thronged with the first batches of recusants. 

The world shrugged its shoulders, and declared that they 
had brought it on themselves, while 3'et it deprecated mob- 
violence, and requested the attention of the authorities and 
the decisive repression of this new conspiracy of supersti- 
tion. And within St. Peter's Church the workmen were 
busy at the long rows of new altars, affixing to the stone 
diptychs the brass-forged names of those who had already 
fulfilled their vows and gained their crowns. 

It was the first word of God's reply to the world's chal- 
lenge. 

As Christmas drew on it was announced that the Sovereign 
pontiff would sing mass on the last day of the year, at the 
papal altar of Saint Peter's, on behalf of the Order ; and 
preparations began to be made. 

It was to be a kind of public inauguration of the new 



194 LORD OF THE WORLD 

enterprise; and, to the astonishment of all, a special sum- 
mons was issued to all members of the Sacred College 
througout the world to be present, unless hindered by sick- 
ness. It seemed as if the Pope were determined that the 
world should understand that war was declared; for, al- 
though the command would not involve the absence of any 
Cardinal from his province for more than five days, yet 
many inconveniences must surely result. However, it had 
been said, and it was to be done. 

It was a strange Christmas. 

Percy was ordered to attend the Pope at his second mass, 
and himself said his three at midnight in his own private 
oratory. For the first time in his life he saw that of which 
he had heard so often, the wonderful old-world Pontifical 
procession, lit by torches, going through the streets from 
the Lateran to St. Anastasia, where the Pope for the last 
few years had restored the ancient custom discontinued for 
nearly a century-and-a-half. The little basilica was re- 
served, of course, in every corner for the peculiarly privi- 
leged ; but the streets outside along the whole route from 
the Cathedral to the church — and, indeed, the other two 
sides of the triangle as well, were one dense mass of silent 
heads and flaming torches. The Holy Father was attended 
at the altar by the usual sovereigns ; and Percy from his 
place watched the heavenly drama of Christ's Passion 
enacted through the veil of His nativity at the hands of His 
old Angelic Vicar. It was hard to perceive Calvary here; 
it was surely the air of Bethlehem, the celestial light, not 
the supernatural darkness, that beamed round the simple 
altar. It was the Child called Wonderful that lay there 



THE ENCOUNTER 195 

beneath the old hands, rather than the stricken Man of Sor- 
sows. 

Adeste pdeles sang the choir from the tribune, — Come, let 
us adore, rather than weep ; let us exult, be content, be our- 
selves like little children. As He for us became a child, let 
us become childlike for Him. Let us put on the garments 
of infancy and the shoes of peace. For the Lord hath 
reigned; He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed 
with strength and hath girded Himself. He hath estab- 
lished the world which shall not be moved: His throne is pre- 
pared from of old. He is from everlasting. Rejoice 
greatly then, daughter of Zion, shout for joy, O daugh- 
ter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh, to thee, the Holy 
One, the Saviour of the world. It will be time, then, to 
suffer by and bye, when the Prince of this world cometh 
upon the Prince of Heaven. 

So Percy mused, standing apart in his gorgeousness, striv- 
ing to make himself little and simple. Surely nothing was 
too hard for God ! Might not this mystic Birth once more 
do what it had done before — bring into subjection through 
the might of its weakness every proud thing that exalts 
itself above all that is called God.'' It had drawn wise Kings 
once across the desert, as well as shepherds from their 
flocks. It had kings about it now, kneeling with the poor 
and foolish, kings who had laid down their crowns, who 
brought the gold of loyal hearts, the myrrh of desired mar- 
tyrdom, and the incense of a pure faith. Could not repub- 
lics, too, lay aside their splendour, mobs be tamed, selfishness 
deny itself, and wisdom confess its ignorance.'' . . . 

Then he remembered Felsenburgh; and his heart sickened 
within him. 



196 LORD OF THE WORLD 

III 

Six days later, Percy rose as usual, said his mass, break- 
fasted, and sat down to say office until his servant should 
summon him to vest for the Pontifical mass. 

He had learned to expect bad news now so constantly — of 
apostasies, deaths, losses — that the lull of the previous 
week had come to him with extraordinary refreshment. It 
appeared to him as if his musings in St. Anastasia had been 
truer than he thought, and that the sweetness of the old 
feast had not yet wholly lost its power even over a world 
that denied its substance. For nothing at all had happened 
of importance. A few more martyrdoms had been 
chronicled, but they had been isolated cases ; and of Fel- 
senburgh there had been no tidings at all. Europe con- 
fessed its ignorance of his business. 

On the other hand, to-morrow, Percy knew very well, 
would be a day of extraordinary moment in England and 
Germany at any rate ; for in England it was appointed as 
the first occasion of compulsory worship throughout the 
country, while it was the second in Germany. Men and 
women would have to declare themselves now. 

He had seen on the previous evening a photograph of 
the image that was to be worshipped next day in the Abbey ; 
and, in a fit of loathing, had torn it to shreds. It repre- 
sented a nude woman, huge and majestic, entrancingly 
lovely, with head and shoulders thrown back, as one who 
sees a strange and heavenly vision, arms downstrctched and 
hands a little raised, with wide fingers, as in astonishment — ■ 
the whole attitude, with feet and knees pressed together, 
suggestive of expectation, hope and wonder; in devilish 



THE ExNXOUNTER 197 

mockery her long hair was crowned with twelve stars. This, 
then, was the spouse of the other, the embodiment of man's 
ideal maternity, still waiting for her child. . . . 

When the white scraps lay like poisonous snow at his 
feet, he had sprung across the room to his prie-dieu, and 
fallen there in an agony of reparation. 

"Oh ! Mother, Mother !" he cried to the stately Queen of 
Heaven who, with Her true Son long ago in Her arms, 
looked down on him from Her bracket — no more than that. 

But he was still again this morning, and celebrated Saint 
Silvester, Pope and Martj'r, the last saint in the procession 
of the Christian year, with tolerable equanimity. The 
sights of last night, the throng of officials, the stately, 
scarlet, unfamiliar figures of the Cardinals who had come 
in from north, south, east and west — these helped to re- 
assure him again — unreasonably, as he knew, yet effec- 
tually. The very air was electric witli expectation. All 
night the piazza had been crowded by a huge, silent mob 
waiting till the opening of the doors at seven o'clock. Now 
the church itself was full, and the piazza full again. Far 
down the street to the river, so far as he could see as he had 
leaned from his window just now, lay that solemn motion- 
less pavement of heads. The roof of the colonnade showed 
a fringe of them, the house-tops were black — and this in 
the bitter cold of a clear, frosty morning, for it was an- 
nounced that after mass and the proceeding of the members 
of the Order past the Pontifical Throne, the Pope would 
give Apostolic Benediction to the City and the World. 

Percy finished Terce, closed his book and lay back; his 
servant would be here in a minute now. 



198 LORD OF THE WORLD 

His mind began to run over the function, and he reflected 
that the entire Sacred College (with the exception of the 
Cardinal-Protector of Jerusalem, detained by sickness), 
numbering sixty-four members, would take part. This 
would mean an unique sight by and bye. Eight years be- 
fore, he remembered, after the freedom of Rome, there 
had been a similar assembly ; but the Cardinals at that time 
amounted to no more than fifty-three all told, and four had 
been absent. 

Then he heard voices in his ante-room, a quick step, and 
a loud English expostulation. That was curious, and he 
sat up. 

Then he heard a sentence. 

"His Eminence must go to vest ; it is useless." 

There was a sharp answer, a faint scuffle, and a snatch 
at the handle. This was indecent ; so Percy stood up, made 
three strides of it to the door, and tore it open. 

A man stood there, whom at first he did not recognise, pale 
and disordered. 

"Why — " began Percy, and recoiled. 

"Mr. Phillips !" he said. 

The other threw out his hands. 

"It is I, sir — your Eminence — this moment arrived. It 
is life and death. Your servant tells me " 

"Who sent you.?" 

"Father Blackmore." 

"Good news or bad?" 

The man rolled his ej^es towards the servant, who still stood 
erect and offended a yard away ; and Percy understood. 

He put his hand on the other's arm, drawing him through 
the doorway. 



THE ENCOUNTER 199 

"Tap upon this door in two minutes, James," he said. 

They passed across the polished floor together ; Percy 
went to his usual place in the window, leaned against the 
shutter, and spoke. 

"Tell me in one sentence, sir," he said to the breathless 
man. 

"There is a plot among the Catholics. They intend 
destroying the Abbey to-morrow with explosives. I knew 
that the Pope " 

Percy cut him short witJi a gesture. 



CHAPTER VI 



The volor-stage was comparatively empty this afternoon, 
as the httle party of six stepped out on to it from the 
lift. There was nothing to distinguish these from ordinary 
travellers. The two Cardinals of Germany and England 
were wrapped in plain furs, without insignia of any kind; 
their chaplains stood near them, while the two men-servants 
hurried forward with the bags to secure a private compart- 
ment. 

The four kept complete silence, watching the busy move- 
ments of the officials on board, staring unseeingly at the 
sleek, polished monster that lay netted in steel at their feet, 
and the great folded fins that would presently be cutting 
the thin air at a hundred and fifty miles an hour. 

Then Percy, by a sudden movement, turned from the 
others, went to the open window that looked over Rome, 
and leaned there with his elbows on the sill, looking. 

It was a strange view before him. 

It was darkening now towards sunset, and the sk}', prim- 
rose-green overhead, deepened to a clear tawny orange 
above the horizon, with a sanguine line or two at the edge, 
and beneath that lay the deep evening violet of the city, 
blotted here and there by the black of c\'presses and cut by 
the thin leafless pinnacles of a poplar grove that aspired 
without the walls. But right across the picture rose the 



THE ENCOUNTER 201 

enormous dome, of an indescribable tint ; it was grey, it was 
violet — it was what the eye chose to make it — and through 
it, giving its solidity the air of a bubble, shone the southern 
sky, flushed too with faint orange. It was this that was su- 
preme and dominant ; the serrated line of domes, spires and 
pinnacles, the crowded roofs beneath, in the valley dell' 
Inferno, the fairy hills far away — all were but the annexe 
to this mighty tabernacle of God. Already lights were be- 
ginning to shine, as for thirty centuries they had shone; 
thin straight skeins of smoke were ascending against the 
darkening sky. The hum of this Mother of cities was be- 
ginning to be still, for the keen air kept folks indoors ; and 
the evening peace was descending that closed another day 
and another year. Beneath in the narrow streets Percy 
could see tiny figures, hurrjang like belated ants ; the crack 
of a whip, the cry of a woman, the wail of a child came up 
to this immense elevation like details of a murmur from an- 
other world. They, too, would soon be quiet, and there 
would be peace. 

A heavy bell beat faintly from far away, and the drowsy 
city turned to murmur its good-night to the Mother of God. 
From a thousand towers came the tiny melody, floating 
across the great air spaces, in a thousand accents, the solemn 
bass of St. Peter's, the mellow tenor of the Lateran, the 
rough cry from some old slum church, the peevish tinkle rtf 
convents and chapels — all softened and made m3^stical in 
this grave evening air — it was the wedding of delicate sound 
and clear light. Above, the liquid orange sky ; beneath, 
this sweet, subdued ecstas}^ of bells. 

"Alma Redemptoris ]\fater," whispered Percy, his e3'es wet 
with tears. "Gentle Mother of the Redeemer — the open 



202 LORD OF THE WORLD 

door of the sky, star of the sea — have mercy on sinners. 
The Angel of the Lord announced it to Mary, and she con- 
ceived of the Holy Ghost. . . . Pour, therefore. Lord, Thy 
grace into our hearts. Let us, who know Christ's incarna- 
tion, rise through passion and cross to the glory of Resur- 
rection — through the same Christ our Lord." 

Another bell clanged sharply close at hand, calling him 
down to earth, and wrong, and labour and grief; and he 
turned to see the motionless volor itself one blaze of bril- 
liant internal light, and the two priests following the Ger- 
man Cardinal across the gangway. 

It was the rear compartment that the men had taken ; 
and when he had seen that the old man was comfortable, still 
without a word he passed out again into the central pas- 
sage to see the last of Rome. 

The exit-door had now been snapped, and as Percy stood 
at the opposite window looking out at the high wall that 
would presently sink beneath him, throughout the whole of 
the delicate frame began to run the vibration of the electric 
engine. There was the murmur of talking somewhere, a 
heavy step shook the floor, a bell clanged again, twice, and 
a sweet wind-chord sounded. Again it sounded ; the vibra- 
tion ceased, and the edge of the high wall against the 
tawny sky on which he had fixed his eyes sank suddenly 
like a dropped bar, and he staggered a little in his place. 
A moment later the dome rose again, and itself sank, tl;e 
city, a fringe of towers and a mass of dark roofs, pricked 
with light, span like a whirlpool; the jewelled stars them- 
selves sprang this way and that; and with one more long 
cry the marvellous machine righted itself, beat with its 
wings, and settled down, with the note of the flying air pass- 



THE ENCOUNTER 203 

ing through rising shrilhicss into A'ibrant silence, to its long 
voyage to the north. 

Further and further sank the city behind ; it was a patch 
now : greyness on black. The sky seemed to grow more 
huge and all-containing as the earth relapsed into darkness ; 
it glowed like a vast dome of wonderful glass, darkening 
even as it glowed ; and as Perc}' dropped his ej'es once more 
round the extreme edge of the car the city was but a line 
and a bubble — a line and a swelling — a line, and nothing- 
ness. 

He drew a long breath, and went back to his friends. 



II 



"Tell me again," said the old Cardinal, when the two were 
settled down opposite to one another, and the chaplains 
were gone to another compartment. "Who is this man?" 

"A kind of Apollo — or Jupiter, my dear," put in Oliver. 

"This man? He was secretary to Oliver Brand, one of 
our politicians. He fetched me to old Mrs. Brand's death- 
bed, and lost his place in consequence. He is in journalism 
now. He is perfectly honest. No, he is not a Catholic, 
though he longs to be one. That is why they confided in 
him." 

"And they?" 

"I know nothing of them, except that they are a desperate 
set. They have enough faith to act, but not enough to be 
patient. ... I suppose they thought this man would sym- 
pathise. But unfortunately he has a conscience, and he 
also sees that any attempt of this kind would be the last 



204 LORD OF THE WORLD 

straw on the back of toleration. Eminence, do jou realise 
how violent the feeling is against us?" 

The old man shook his head lamentabl}'. 

"Do I not?" he murmured. "And my Germans are in it? 
Are you sure?" 

"Eminence, it is a vast plot. It has been simmering for 
months. There have been meetings every week. They have 
kept the secret marvellously. Your Germans only delayed 
that the blow might be more complete. And now, to- 
morrow — " Percy drew back with a despairing gesture. 

"And the Holy Father?" 

"I went to him as soon as mass was over. He withdrew all 
opposition, and sent for you. It is our one chance, Emi- 
nence." 

"And you think our plan will hinder it?" 

"I have no idea, but I can think of nothing else. I shall 
go straight to the Archbishop and tell him all. We arrive, 
I believe, at three o'clock, and you in Berlin about seven, 
I suppose, by German time. The function is fixed for 
eleven. By eleven, then, we shall have done all that is pos- 
sible. The Government will know, and they will know, too, 
that we are innocent in Rome. I imagine they will cause it 
to be announced that the Cardinal-Protector and the Arch- 
bishop, with his coadjutors, will be present in the sacristies. 
They will double every guard ; they will parade volors over- 
head — and then — well! in God's hands be the rest." 

"Do you think the conspirators will attempt it?" 

"I have no idea," said Percy shortly. 

"I understand they have alternative plans." 

"Just so. If all is clear, they intend dropping the ex- 
plosive from above ; if not, at least three men have offered 



THE ENCOUNTER 205 

to sacrifice themselves by taking it into the Abbey them- 
selves. . . . And you, Eminence?" 

The old man eyed him steadily, 

"My programme is yours," he said. "Eminence, have you 
considered the effect in either case? If nothing hap- 
pens " 

"If nothing happens we shall be accused of a fraud, of 
seeking to advertise ourselves. If anything happens — well, 
we shall all go before God together. Pray God it may be 
the second," he added passionately. 

"It will be at least easier to bear," observed the old man. 

"I beg your pardon. Eminence. I should not have said 
that." 

There fell a silence between the two, in which no sound 
was heard but the faint untiring vibration of the screw, 
and the sudden cough of a man in the next compartment. 
Percy leaned his head wearily on his hand, and stared from 
the window. 

The earth was now dark beneath them — an immense empti- 
ness; above, the huge engulfing sky was still faintly 
luminous, and through the high frosty mist through which 
they moved stars glimmered now and again, as the car 
swayed and tacked across the wind. 

"It will be cold among the Alps," murmured Percy. Then 
he broke off. "And I have not one shred of evidence," he 
said; "nothing but the word of a man." 

"And you are sure?" 

"I am sure." 

"Eminence," said the German suddenly, staring straight 
into his face, "the likeness is extraordinary." 

Percy smiled listlessly. He was tired of hearing that. 



206 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"What do you make of it?" persisted the other. 

"I have been asked that before," said Percy. "I have no 
views." 

"It seems to me that God means something," murmured 
the German heavily, still staring at him. 

"Well, Eminence.?" 

"A kind of antithesis — a reverse of the medal. I do not 
know." 

Again there was silence. A chaplain looked in through 
the glazed door, a homely, blue-eyed German, and was 
waved away once more. 

"Eminence," said the old man abruptly, "there is surely 
more to speak of. Plans to be made." 

Percy shook his head. 

"There are no plans to be made," he said. "We know 
nothing but the fact — no names — nothing. We — we are 
like children in a tiger's cage. And one of us has just made 
a gesture in the tiger's face." 

"I suppose we shall communicate with one another.?" 

"If we are in existence." 

It was curious how Percy took the lead. He had worn his 
scarlet for about three months, and his companion for 
twelve years ; yet it was the younger who dictated plans and 
arranged. He was scarcely conscious of its strangeness, 
however. Ever since the shocking news of the morning, 
when a new mine had been sprung under the shaking 
Church, and he had watched the stately ceremonial, the 
gorgeous splendour, the dignified, tranquil movements of 
the Pope and his court, with a secret that burned his heart 
and brain — above all, since that quick interview in which 
old plans had been reversed and a startling decision formed, 



THE ENCOUNTER 20T 

and a blessing given and received, and a farewell looked 
not uttered — all done in half-an-hour — his whole nature 
had concentrated itself into one keen tense force, like a 
coiled spring. He felt power tingling to his finger-tips — 
power and the dulness of an immense despair. Every prop 
had been cut, every brace severed ; he, the City of Rome, 
the Catholic Church, the very supernatural itself, seemed 
to hang now on one single thing — the Finger of God. And 
if that failed — well, nothing would ever matter any 
more. ... 

He was going now to one of two things — ignominy or 
death. There was no third thing — unless, indeed, the con- 
spirators were actually taken with their instruments upon 
them. But that was impossible. Either they would re- 
frain, knowing that God's ministers would fall with them, 
and in that case there would be the ignominy of a detected 
fraud, of a miserable attempt to win credit. Or they would 
not refrain ; they would count the death of a Cardinal and 
a few bishops a cheap price to pay for revenge — and in 
that case — well, there was Death and Judgment. But 
Percy had ceased to fear. No ignominy could be greater 
than that which he already bore — the ignominy of loneli- 
ness and discredit. And death could be nothing but sweet — 
it would at least be knowledge and rest. He was willing 
to risk all on God. 

The other, with a little gesture of apology, took out his 
office book presently, and began to read. 

Percy looked at him with an immense envy. Ah ! if only 
he were as old as that ! He could bear a year or two more of 
this misery, but not fifty years, he thought. It was an almost 
endless vista that (even if things went well) opened before 



S08 LORD OF THE WORLD 

him, of continual strife, self -repression, energy, misrepre- 
sentation from his enemies. The Church was sinking fur- 
ther every day. What if this new spasm of fervour were 
no more than the dying flare of faith? How could he bear 
that.'' He would have to see the tide of atheism rise higher 
and more triumphant every day ; Felsenburgh had given 
it an impetus of whose end there was no prophesying. 
Never before had a single man wielded tlie full power of 
democracy. Then once more he looked forward to the 
morrow. Oh! if it could but end in death! . . . Beati 
mortui qui in Domino moriuntur! . . . 

It was no good ; it was cowardly to think in this f asliion. 
After all, God was God — He takes up tlie isles as a very 
little thing. 

Percy took out his office book, found Prime and St. Syl- 
vester, signed himself with the cross, and began to pray. 
A minute later the two chaplains slipped in once more, 
and sat down ; and all was silent, save for that throb of the 
screw, and the strange whispering rush of air outside. 



Ill 



It was about nineteen o'clock that the ruddy English 
conductor looked in at the doorway, waking Percy from 
his doze. 

"Dinner will be served in half-an-hour, gentlemen," he 
said (speaking Esperanto, as the rule was on international 
cars). "We do not stop at Turin to-night." 

He shut the door and went out, and the sound of closing 



THE ENCOUNTER 209 

doors came down the corridor as he made the same an- 
nouncement to each coinj)artincnt. 

There were no passengers to descend at Turin, then, re- 
flected Percy ; and no doubt a wireless message had been 
received that there were none to come on board either. 
That was good news : it would give him more time in Lon- 
don. It might even enable Cardinal Steinmann to catch 
an earlier volor from Paris to Berlin ; but he was not sure 
how they ran. It was a pity that the German had not been 
able to catch the thirteen o'clock from Rome to Berlin di- 
rect. So he calculated, in a kind of superficial insensibility. 

He stood up presently to stretch himself. Then he passed 
out and along the corridor to the lavatory to wash his 
hands. 

He became fascinated by the view as he stood before 
the basin at the rear of the car, for even now they were 
passing over Turin. It was a blur of light, vivid and beau- 
tiful, that shone beneath him in the midst of this gulf of 
darkness, sweeping away southwards into the gloom as the 
car sped on towards the Alps. How little, he thought, seemed 
this great city seen from above ; and yet, how mighty it 
was ! It was from that glimmer, already five miles behind, 
that Italy was controlled ; in one of these dolls' houses of 
which he had caught but a glimpse, men sat in council 
over souls and bodies, and abolished God, and smiled at His 
Church. And God allowed it all, and made no sign. It 
was there that Felsenburgh had been, a month or two ago — 
Felsenburgh, his double ! And again the mental sword tore 
and stabbed at his heart. 

A few minutes later, the four ecclesiastics were sitting 



210 LORD OF THE WORLD 

at their round table in a little screened compartment of 
the dining-room in the bows of the air-ship. It was an 
excellent dinner, served, as usual, from the kitchen in the 
bowels of the volor, and rose, course by course, with a 
smooth click, into the centre of the table. There was a 
bottle of red wine to each diner, and both table and chairs 
swung easily to the very slight motion of the ship. But 
they did not talk much, for there was only one subject pos- 
sible to the two cardinals, and the chaplains had not yet 
been admitted into the full secret. 

It was growing cold now, and even the hot-air foot-rests 
did not quite compensate for the deathly iciness of the 
breath that began to stream down from the Alps, which 
the ship was now approaching at a slight incline. It was 
necessary to rise at least nine thousand feet from the usual 
level, in order to pass the frontier of the Mont Cenis at a 
safe angle; and at the same time it was necessary to go a 
little slower over the Alps themselves, owing to the extreme 
rarity of the air, and the difficulty in causing the screw to 
revolve sufficiently quickly to counteract it. 

"There will be clouds to-night," said a voice clear and 
distinct from the passage, as the door swung slightly to 
a movement of the car. 

Percy got up and closed it. 

The German Cardinal began to grow a little fidgety 
towards the end of dinner. 

"I shall go back," he said at last. "I shall be better in 
my fur rug." 

His chaplain dutifully went after him, leaving his own 
dinner unfinished, and Percy was left alone with Father 
Corkran, his English chaplain lately from Scotland. 



THE ENCOUNTER 211 

He finished his wine, ate a couple of figs, and then sat 
staring out through the plate-glass window in front. 

"Ah !" he said. "Excuse me, father. There are the Alps 
at last." 

The front of the car consisted of three divisions, in the 
centre of one of which stood the steersman, his eyes look- 
ing straight ahead, and his hands upon the wheel. On 
either side of him, separated from him by aluminium walls, 
was contrived a narrow slip of a compartment, with a long 
curved window at the height of a man's eyes, through which 
a magnificent view could be obtained. It was to one of 
these that Percy went, passing along the corridor, and 
seeing through half-opened doors other parties still over 
their wine. He pushed the spring door on the left and went 
through. 

He had crossed the Alps three times before in his life, and 
well remembered the extraordinary effect they had had on 
him, especially as he had once seen them from a great alti- 
tude upon a clear day — an eternal, immeasurable sea of 
white ice, broken by hummocks and wrinkles that from be- 
low were soaring peaks named and reverenced; and, be- 
yond, the spherical curve of the earth's edge that dropped 
in a haze of air into unutterable space. But this time they 
seemed more amazing than ever, and he looked out on them 
with the interest of a sick child. 

The car was now ascending rapidly towards the pass up 
across the huge tumbled slopes, ravines, and cliffs that lie 
like outworks of the enormous wall. Seen from this great 
height they were in themselves comparatively insignificant, 
but they at least suggested the vastness of the bastions of 
which they were no more than buttresses. As Percy 



212 LORD OF THE WORLD 

turned, he could see the moonless sky alight with frosty 
stars, and the dimness of the illumination made the scene 
even more impressive; but as he turned again, there was a 
change. The vast air about him seemed now to be per- 
ceived through frosted glass. The velvet blackness of the 
pine forests had faded to heavy grey, the pale glint of 
water and ice seen and gone again in a moment, the mon- 
strous nakedness of rock spires and slopes, rising towards 
him and sliding away again beneath with a crawling mo- 
tion — all these had lost their distinctness of outline, and 
were veiled in invisible white. As he looked 3'et higher to 
right and left the sight became terrifying, for the giant 
walls of rock rushing towards him, the huge grotesque 
shapes towering on all sides, ran upward into a curtain 
of cloud visible only from the dancing radiance thrown 
upon it by the brilliantly lighted car. Even as he looked, 
two straight fingers of splendour, resembling horns, shot 
out, as the bow searchlights were turned on ; and the car 
itself, already travelling at half-speed, dropped to quarter- 
speed, and began to sway softly from side to side as the 
huge air-planes beat the mist through whicli they moved, 
and the antenna? of light pierced it. Still up they went, 
and on — yet swift enough to let Percy see one great pin- 
nacle rear itself, elongate, sink down into a cruel needle, 
and vanish into nothingness a thousand feet below. The 
motion grew j'et more nauseous, as the car moved up at 
a sharp angle preserving its level, simultaneously rising, 
advancing and swaying. Once, hoarse and sonorous, an 
unfrozen torrent roared like a beast, it seemed within twenty 
yards, and was duinb again on the instant. Now, too, the 
horns began to cry, long, lamentable hootings, ringing 



THE ENCOUNTER 213 

sadly in that echoing desolation like the wail of wander- 
ing souls ; and as Percy, awed beyond feeling, wiped the 
gathering moisture from the glass, and stared again, it 
appeared as if he floated now, motionless except for the 
slight rocking beneath his feet, in a world of whiteness, as 
remote from earth as from heaven, poised in hopeless in- 
finite space, blind, alone, frozen, lost in a white hell of deso- 
lation. 

Once, as he stared, a huge whiteness moved towards him 
through the veil, slid slowly sideways and down, disclosing, 
as the car veered, a gigantic slope smooth as oil, with one 
cluster of black rock cutting it like the fingers of a man's 
hand groping from a mountainous wave. 

Then, as once more the car cried aloud like a lost sheep, 
there answered it, it seemed scarcely ten yards away, first 
one windy scream of dismay, another and another; a clang 
of bells, a chorus broke out ; and the air was full of the 
beating of wings. 



IV 



There was one horrible instant before a clang of a bell, 
the answering scream, and a whirling motion showed that 
the steersman was alert. Then like a stone the car dropped, 
and Percy clutched at the rail before him to steady the ter- 
rible sensation of falling into emptiness. He could hear 
behind him the crasli of crockery, the bumping of heavy 
bodies, and as the car again checked on its wide wings, a 
rush of footsteps broke out and a cry or two of dismaj'. 
Outside, but high and far awa}, the hooting went on ; the 
air was full of it, and in a flash he recognised that it could 



214 LORD OF THE WORLD 

not be one or ten or twenty cars, but at least a hundred that 
had answered the call, and that somewhere overhead were 
hooting and flapping. The invisible ravines and cliffs on 
all sides took up the crying ; long wails whooped and 
moaned and died amid a clash of bells, further and fur- 
ther every instant, but now in every direction, behind, 
above, in front, and far to right and left. Once more the 
car began to move, sinking in a long still curve towards 
the face of the mountain ; and as it checked, and began 
to sway again on its huge wings, he turned to the door, 
seeing as he did so, through the cloudy windows in the 
glow of light, a spire of rock not thirty feet below rising 
from the mist, and one smooth shoulder of snow curving 
away into invisibility. 

Within, the car shewed brutal signs of the sudden check: 
the doors of the dining compartments, as he passed along, 
were flung wide ; glasses, plates, pools of wine and tumbled 
fruit rolled to and fro on the heaving floors ; one man, sit- 
ting helplessly on the ground, rolled vacant, terrified eyes 
upon the priest. He glanced in at the door through which 
he had come just now, and Father Corkran staggered up 
from his seat and came towards him, reeling at tlie motion 
underfoot ; simultaneously there was a rush from the op- 
posite door, where a party of Americans had been dining; 
and as Percy, beckoning with his head, turned again to 
go down to the stern-end of the ship, he found the narrow 
passage blocked with the crowd that had run out. A 
babble of talking and cries made questions impossible ; and 
Percy, with his chaplain behind him, gripped the alumin- 
ium panelling, and step by step began to make his way in 
search of his friends. 



THE ENCOUNTER 215 

Half-way down the passage, as he pushed and struggled, 
a voice made itself heard above the din ; and in the momen- 
tary silence that followed, again sounded the far-away cry- 
ing of the volors overhead. 

"Seats, gentlemen, seats," roared the voice. "We are 
moving immediately," 

Then the crowd melted as the conductor came through, 
red-faced and determined, and Percy, springing into his 
wake, found his way clear to the stern. 

The Cardinal seemed none the worse. He had been asleep, 
he explained, and saved himself in time from rolling on 
to the floor; but his old face twitched as he talked. 

"But what is it.?" he said. "What is the meaning?" 

Father Bechlin related how he had actually seen one of 
the troop of volors within five yards of the window ; it was 
crowded with faces, he said, from stem to stern. Then it 
had soared suddenly, and vanished in whorls of mist. 

Percy shook his head, saying nothing. He had no ex- 
planation. 

"They are inquiring, I understand," said Father Bechlin 
again. "The conductor was at his instrument just now." 

There was nothing to be seen from the windows now. 
Only, as Percy stared out, still dazed with the shock, he 
saw the cruel needle of rock wavering beneath as if seen 
through water, and the huge shoulder of snow swaj'^ing 
softly up and down. It was quieter outside. It appeared 
that the flock had passed, only somewhere from an infinite 
height still sounded a fitful wailing, as if a lonely bird were 
wandering, lost in space. 

**That is the signalling volor," murmured Percy to him- 
self. 



216 LORD OF THE WORLD 

He had no theory — no suggestion. Yet the matter 
seemed an ominous one. It was unheard of that an en- 
counter with a hundred volors should take place, and he 
wondered why they were going southwards. Again the 
name of Felsenburgh came to his mind. What if that sinis- 
ter man were still somewhere overhead ? 

"Eminence," began the old man again. But at that in- 
stant the car began to move. 

A bell clanged, a vibration tingled underfoot, and then, 
soft as a flake of snow, the great ship began to rise, its 
movement perceptible only by the sudden drop and vanish- 
ing of the spire of rock at which Percy still stared. Slowly 
the snowfield too began to flit downwards, a black cleft 
whisked smoothly into sight from above, and disappeared 
again below, and a moment later once more the car seemed 
poised in white space as it climbed the slope of air down 
which it had dropped just now. Again the wind-chord 
rent the atmosphere ; and this time the answer was as faint 
and distant as a cry from another world. The speed 
quickened, and the steady throb of the screw began to re- 
place the swaying motion of the wings. Again came the 
hoot, wild and echoing through the barren wilderness of 
rock walls beneath, and again with a sudden impulse the 
car soared. It was going in great circles now, cautious as 
a cat, climbing, climbing, punctuating the ascent with cry 
after cry, searching the blind air for dangers. Once again 
a vast white slope came into sight, illuminated by the glare 
from the windows, sinking ever more and more swiftly, re- 
ceding and approaching — until for one instant a jagged 
line of rocks grinned like teeth through the mist, dropped 
away and vanished, and with a clash of bells, and a last 



THE ENCOUNTER 217 

scream of Avarning, the throb of the screw passed from a 
whirr to a rising note, and the note to stillness, as the 
huge ship, clear at last of the frontier peaks, shook out 
her wings steady once more, and set out for her humming 
flight through space. . . . Whatever it was, was behind 
them now, vanished into the thick night. 

There was a sound of talking from the interior of the 
car, hasty, breathless voices, questioning, exclaiming, and 
the authoritative terse answer of the guard. A step came 
along outside, and Percy sprang to meet it, but, as he laid 
his hand on the door, it was pushed from without, and to 
his astonishment the English guard came straight through, 
closing it behind him. 

He stood there, looking strangely at the four priests, with 
compressed lips and anxious eyes. 

"Well?" cried Percy. 

"All right, gentlemen. But I'm thinking you'd better 
descend at Paris. I know who you are, gentlemen — and 
though I'm not a Catholic " 

He stopped again. 

"For God's sake, man — " began Percy. 

"Oh ! the news, gentlemen. Well, it was two hundred cars 
going to Rome. There is a Catholic plot, sir, discovered 
in London " 

"Well?" 

"To wipe out the Abbey. So they're going " 

"Ah !" 

"Yes, sir — to wipe out Rome." 

Then he was gone again. 



CHAPTER VII 



It was nearly sixteen o'clock on the same day, the last day 
of the 3'ear, that Mabel went into the little church that 
stood in the street beneath her house. 

The dark was falling softly layer on layer; across the 
roofs to westward burned the smouldering fire of the win- 
ter sunset, and the interior was full of the dying light. 

She had slept a little in her chair that afternoon, and had 
awakened with that strange cleansed sense of spirit and 
mind that sometimes follows such sleep. She wondered 
later how she could have slept at such a time, and above 
all, how it was that she had perceived nothing of that 
cloud of fear and fury that even now was falling over 
town and country alike. She remembered afterwards an 
unusual busy-ness on the broad tracks beneath her as she 
had looked out on them from her windows, and an unusual 
calling of horns and whistles ; but she thought nothing of 
it, and passed down an hour later for a meditation in the 
church. 

She had grown to love the quiet place, and came in often 
like this to steady her thoughts and concentrate them on 
the significance that lay beneath the surface of life — the 
huge principles upon which all lived, and which so plainly 
were the true realities. Indeed, such devotion was becom- 
ing almost recognised among certain classes of people. 
Addresses were delivered now and then ; little books were 



THE ENCOUNTER 219 

being published as guides to the interior Hfe, curiously re- 
sembling the old Catholic books on mental prayer. 

She went to-day to her usual seat, sat down, folded her 
hands, looked for a minute or two upon the old stone sanc- 
tuary, the white image and the darkening window. Then 
she closed her eyes and began to think, according to the 
method she followed. 

First she concentrated her attention on herself, detaching 
it from all that was merely external and transitory, with- 
drawing it inwards . . . inwards, until she found that 
secret spark which, beneath all frailties and activities, 
made her a substantial member of the divine race of human- 
kind. 

This tben was the first step. 

The second consisted in an act of the intellect, followed 
by one of the imagination. All men possessed that spark, 
she considered. . . . Then she sent out her powers, sweep- 
ing with the eyes of her mind the seething world, seeing 
beneath the light and dark of the two hemispheres, the 
countless millions of mankind — children coming into the 
world, old men leaving it, the mature rejoicing in it and 
their own strength. Back through the ages she looked, 
through those centuries of crime and blindness, as the race 
rose through savagery and superstition to a knowledge of 
themselves ; on through the ages yet to come, as genera- 
tion followed generation to some climax whose perfection, 
she told herself, she could not fully comprehend because 
she was not of it. Yet, she told herself again, that climax 
had already been born ; the birthpangs were over ; for had 
not He come who was the heir of time? . . . 

Then by a third and vivid act she realised the unity of aU, 



220 LORD OF THE WORLD 

the central fire of which each spark was but a radiation — 
that vast passionless divine being, realising Himself up 
through these centuries, one jet many, Him whom men had 
called God, now no longer unknown, but recognised as the 
transcendent total of themselves — Him who now, with the 
coming of the new Saviour, had stirred and awakened and 
shown Himself as One. 

And there she stayed, contemplating the vision of her 
mind, detaching now this virtue, now that for particular 
assimilation, dwelling on her deficiencies, seeing in the whole 
the fulfilment of all aspirations, the sum of all for which 
men had hoped — that Spirit of Peace, so long hindered yet 
generated too perpetually by the passions of the world, 
forced Into outline and being by the energy of individual 
lives, realising itself in pulse after pulse, dominant at last, 
serene, manifest, and triumphant. There she stayed, los- 
ing the sense of individuality, merging it by a long sus- 
tained effort of the will, drinking, as she thought, long 
breaths of the spirit of life and love. . . . 

Some sound, she supposed afterwards, disturbed her, and 
she opened her ej^es ; and there before her lay the quiet 
pavement, glimmering through the dusk, the step of the 
sanctuary, the rostrum on the right, and the peaceful 
space of darkening air above the white Mother-figure and 
against the tracery of the old window. It was here that 
men had worshipped Jesus, that blood-stained Man of Sor- 
row, who had borne, even on His own confession, not peace 
but a sword. Yet they had knelt, those blind and hopeless 
Christians. . . . Ah ! the pathos of it all, the despairing 
acceptance of any creed that would account for sorrow, 
the wild worship of any God who had claimed to bear it ! 



THE ENCOUNTER 221 

And again came the sound, striking across her peace, 
though as jet she did not understand why. 

It was nearer now ; and she turned in astonishment to look 
down the dusky nave. 

It was from without that the sound had come, that strange 
murmur, that rose and fell again as she listened. 

She stood up, her heart quickening a little — only once be- 
fore had she heard such a sound, once before, in a square, 
where men raged about a point beneath a platform. . . . 

She stepped swiftly out of her seat, passed down the 
aisle, drew back the curtains beneath the west window, 
lifted the latch and stepped out. 

The street, from where she looked over the railings that 
barred the entrance to the church, seemed unusually empty 
and dark. To right and left stretched the houses, over- 
head the darkening sky was flushed with rose ; but it seemed 
as if the public lights had been forgotten. There was not 
a living being to be seen. 

She had put her hand on the latch of the gate, to open 
it and go out, when a sudden patter of footsteps made her 
hesitate ; and the next instant a child appeared panting, 
breathless and terrified, running with her hands before her. 

"They're coming, they're coming," sobbed the child, see- 
ing the face looking at her. Then she clung to the bars, 
staring over her shoulder. 

Mabel lifted the latch in an instant; the child sprang in, 
ran to the door and beat against it, then turning, seized 
her dress and cowered against her. Mabel shut the gate. 

"There, there," she said. "Who is it.? Who are coming.'"* 

But the child hid her face, drawing at the kindly skirts; 



222 LORD OF THE WORLD 

and the next moment came the roar of voices and 
the trampling of footsteps. 

It was not more than a few seconds before the heralds 
of that grim procession came past. First came a flying 
squadron of children, laughing, terrified, fascinated, 
screaming, turning their heads as they ran, with a dog or 
two yelping among them, and a few women drifting side- 
ways along the pavements. A face of a man, Mabel saw 
as she glanced in terror upwards, had appeared at the win- 
dows opposite, pale and eager — some invalid no doubt 
dragging himself to see. One group — a well-dressed man 
in grey, a couple of women carrying babies, a solemn-faced 
boy — halted immediately before her on the other side of the 
railings, all talking, none listening, and these too turned 
their faces to the road on the left, up which every instant 
the clamour and trampling grew. Yet she could not ask. 
Her lips moved; but no sound came from them. She was 
one incarnate apprehension. Across her intense fixity 
moved pictures of no importance — of Oliver as he had been 
at breakfast, of her own bedroom with its softened paper, 
of the dark sanctuary and the white figure on which she 
had looked just now. 

They were coming thicker now; a troop of young men 
with their arms linked swayed into sight, all talking or 
crying aloud, none listening — all across the roadway, and 
behind them surged the crowd, like a wave in a stone-fenced 
channel, male scarcely distinguishable from female in that 
pack of faces, and under that sky that grew darker every 
instant. Except for the noise, which Mabel now hardly 
noticed, so thick and incessant it was, so complete her con- 



THE ENCOUNTER 223 

centration in the sense of sight — except for that, it might 
have been, from its suddenness and overwhelming force, 
some mob of phantoms trooping on a sudden out of some 
vista of the spiritual world visible across an open space, 
and about to vanish again in obscurity. That empty street 
was full now on this side and that so far as she could see ; 
the young men were gone — running or walking she hardly 
knew — round the corner to the right, and the entire space 
was one stream of heads and faces, pressing so fiercely that 
the group at the railings were detached like weeds and 
drifted too, sideways, clutching at the bars, and swept away 
too and vanished. And all the while the child tugged and 
tore at her skirts. 

Certain things began to appear now above the heads of 
the crowd — objects she could not distinguish in the failing 
light — poles, and fantastic shapes, fragments of stuff re- 
sembling banners, moving as if alive, turning from side to 
side, borne from beneath. 

Faces, distorted with passion, looked at her from time 
to time as the moving show went past, open mouths cried at 
her; but she hardly saw them. She was watching those 
strange emblems, straining her eyes through the dusk, 
striving to distinguish the battered broken shapes, half- 
guessing, yet afraid to guess. 

Then, on a sudden, from the hidden lamps beneath the 
eaves, light leaped into being — that strong, sweet, familiar 
light, generated by the great engines underground that, in 
the passion of that catastrophic day, all men had forgot- 
ten ; and in a moment all changed from a mob of phantoms 
and shapes into a pitiless reality of life and death. 

Before her moved a great rood, with a figure upon it, 



224 LORD OF THE WORLD 

of which one arm hung from the nailed hand, swinging as 
it went; an embroidery streamed behind with the swiftness 
of the motion. 

And next after it came the naked body of a child, impaled, 
white and ruddy, the head fallen upon the breast, and the 
arms, too, dangling and turning. 

And next the figure of a man, hanging by the neck, 
dressed, it seemed, in a kind of black gown and cape, with 
its black-capped head twisting from the twisting rope. 



II 



The same night Oliver Brand came home about an hour 
before midnight. 

For himself, what he had heard and seen that day was 
still too vivid and too imminent for him to judge of it 
coolly. He had seen, from his windows in Whitehall, 
Parliament Square filled with a mob the like of which had 
not been known in England since the days of Christianity 
■ — a mob full of a fury that could scarcely draw its origin 
except from sources beyond the reach of sense. Thrice dur- 
ing the hours that followed the publication of the Catholic 
plot and the outbreak of mob-law he had communicated 
with the Prime Minister asking whether nothing could be 
done to allay the tumult ; and on both occasions he had re- 
ceived the doubtful answer that what could be done would 
be done, that force was inadmissible at present ; but that 
the police were doing all that was possible. 

As regarded the despatch of the volors to Rome, he had 



THE ENCOUNTER 225 

assented by silence, as had the rest of the Council. That 
was, Snowford had said, a judicial punitive act, regret- 
table but necessary. Peace, in this instance, could not be 
secured except on terms of war — or rather, since war was 
obsolete — by the sternness of justice. These Catholics 
had shown themselves the avowed enemies of society ; very 
well, then society must defend itself, at least this once. 
Man was still human. And Oliver had listened and said 
nothing. 

As he passed in one of the Government volors over Lon- 
don on his way home, he had caught more than one glimpse 
of what was proceeding beneath him. The streets were as 
bright as day, shadowless and clear in the white light, and 
every roadway was a crawling serpent. From beneath rose 
up a steady roar of voices, soft and woolly, punctuated by 
cries. From here and there ascended the smoke of burning ; 
and once, as he flitted over one of the great squares to the 
south of Battersea, he had seen as it were a scattered 
squadron of ants running as if in fear or pursuit. . . . 
He knew what was happening. . . . Well, after all, man 
was not yet perfectly civilised. 

He did not like to think of what awaited him at home. 
Once, about five hours earlier, he had listened to his wife's 
voice through the telephone, and what he had heard had 
nearly caused him to leave all and go to her. Yet he was 
scarcely prepared for what he found. 

As he came irito the sitting-room, there was no sound, ex- 
cept that far-away hum from the seething streets below. 
The room seemed strangely' dark and cold ; the only light 
that entered was through one of the windows from which the 
curtains were withdrawn, and, silhouetted against the lumin- 



226 LORD OF THE WORLD 

ous sky beyond, was the upright figure of a woman, looking 
and hstening. . . . 

He pressed the knob of the electric light; and Mabel 
turned slowly towards him. She was in her day-dress, with 
a cloak thrown over her shoulders, and her face was almost 
as that of a stranger. It was perfectly colourless, her lips 
were compressed and her eyes full of an emotion which he 
could not interpret. It might equally have been anger, 
terror or misery. 

She stood there in the steady light, motionless, looking at 
him. 

For a moment he did not trust himself to speak. He 
passed across to the window, closed it and drew the cur- 
tains. Then he took that rigid figure gently by the arm. 

"Mabel," he said, "Mabel." 

She submitted to be drawn towards the sofa, but there was 
no response to his touch. He sat down and looked up at 
her with a kind of despairing apprehension. 

"My dear, I am tired out," he said. 

Still she looked at him. There was in her pose that rigid- 
ity that actors simulate ; yet he knew it for the real thing. 
He had seen that silence once or twice before in the pres- 
ence of a horror — once at any rate, at the sight of a splash 
of blood on her shoe. 

"Well, my darling, sit down, at least," he said. 

She obeyed him mechanically — sat, and still stared at him. 
In the silence once more that soft roar rose and died from 
the invisible world of tumult outside the windows. Within 
here all was quiet. He knew perfectly that two things 
strove within her, her loyalty to her faith and her hatred of 
those crimes in the name of justice. As he looked on her 



THE ENCOUNTER 227 

he saw that these two were at death grips, that hatred was 
prevailing, and that she herself was little more than a pas- 
sive battlefield. Then, as with a long-drawn howl of a 
wolf, there surged and sank the voices of the mob a mile 
away, the tension broke. . . . She threw herself forward 
towards him, he caught her by the wrists, and so she rested, 
clasped in his arms, her face and bosom on his knees, and 
her whole body torn by emotion. 

For a full minute neither spoke. Oliver understood well 
enough, yet at present he had no words. He only drew her 
a little closer to himself, kissed her hair two or three times, 
and settled himself to hold her. He began to rehearse what 
he must say presently. 

Then she raised her flushed face for an instant, looked 
at him passionately, dropped her head again and began to 
sob out broken words. 

He could only catch a sentence here and there, yet he 
knew what she was saying. . . . 

It was the ruin of all her hopes, she sobbed, the end of her 
religion. Let her die, die and have done with it! It was 
all gone, gone, swept away in this murderous passion of 
the people of her faith . . . they were no better than 
Christians, after all, as fierce as the men on whom they 
avenged themselves, as dark as though the Saviour, Julian, 
had never come ; it was all lost . . . War and Passion and 
Murder had returned to the body from which she had 
thought them gone forever. . . . The burning churches, 
the hunted Catholics, the raging of the streets on which 
she had looked that day, the bodies of the child and the 
priest carried on poles, the burning churches and convents. 
. . . All streamed out, incoherent, broken by sobs, details 



228 LORD OF THE WORLD 

of horror, lamentations, reproaches, interpreted by the 
writhing of her head and hands upon his knees. The col- 
lapse was complete. 

He put his hands again beneath her arms and raised her. 
He was worn out by his work, yet he knew he must quiet 
her. This was more serious than any previous crisis. Yet 
he knew her power of recovery. 

"Sit down, my darling," he said. "There . . . give me 
your hands. Now listen to me." 

He made really an admirable defence, for it was what he 
had been repeating to himself all day. 

Men were not yet perfect, he said ; there ran in their veins 
the blood of men who for twenty centuries had been Chris- 
tians. . . . There must be no despair; faith in man was 
of the very essence of religion, faith in man's best self, in 
what he would become, not in what at present he actually 
was. They were at the beginning of the new religion, not 
in its maturit}"^ ; there must be sourness in the young fruit. 
. . . Consider, too, the provocation ! Remember the ap- 
palling crime that these Catholics had contemplated; they 
had set themselves to strike the new Faith in its very 
heart. . . . 

"My darling," he said, "men are not changed in an in- 
stant. What if those Christians had succeeded ! . . . I 
condemn it all as strongly as you. I saw a couple of news- 
papers this afternoon that are as wicked as anything that 
the Christians have over done. They exulted in all 
these crimes. It will throw the movement back ten 
years. . . . Do you think that there are not thousands 
like yourself who hate and detest this violence.'* . . . But 



THE ENCOUNTER 229 

what does faith mean, except that we know that mercy 
will prevail? Faith, patience and hope — these are our 
weapons." 

He spoke with passionate conviction, his eyes fixed on hers, 
in a fierce endeavour to give her his own confidence, and to 
reassure the remnants of his own doubtfulness. It was 
true that he too hated what she hated, yet he saw things 
that she did not. . . . Well, well, he told himself, he must 
remember that she was a woman. 

The look of frantic horror passed slowly out of her eyes, 
giving way to acute misery as he talked, and as his per- 
sonality once more began to dominate her own. But it 
was not yet over. 

"But the volors," she cried, "the volors ! That is de- 
liberate ; that is not the work of the mob." 

"My darling, it is no more deliberate than the other. We 
are all human, we are all immature. Yes, the Council per- 
mitted it, . . . permitted it, remember. The German Gov- 
ernment, too, had to yield. We must tame nature slowly, 
we must not break it." 

He talked again for a few minutes, repeating his argu- 
ments, soothing, reassuring, encouraging ; and he saw that 
he was beginning to prevail. But she returned to one of 
his words. 

"Permitted it! And you permitted it." 

"Dear ; I said nothing, either for it or against. I tell you 
that if we had forbidden it there would have been yet more 
murder, and the people would have lost their rulers. We 
were passive, since we could do nothing." 

"Ah ! but it would have been better to die. . . . Oh, Oliver, 
let me die at least ! I cannot bear it." 



LORD OF THE WORLD 

By her hands which he still held he drew her nearer yet 
to himself. 

"Sweetheart," he said gravely, "cannot you trust me a 
little? If I could tell you all that passed to-day, you 
would understand. But trust me that I am not heartless. 
And what of Julian Felsenburgh ?" 

For a moment he saw hesitation in her eyes ; her loyalty 
to him and her loathing of all that had happened strove 
within her. Then once again loyalt}' prevailed, the name 
of Felsenburgh weighed down the balance, and trust came 
back with a flood of tears. 

"Oh, Oliver," she said, "I know I trust you. But I am 
so weak, and all is so terrible. And He so strong and merci- 
ful. And will He be with us to-morrow.''" 

It struck midnight from the clock-tower a mile away as 
they yet sat and talked. She was still tremulous from the strug- 
gle ; but she looked at him smiling, still holding his hands. 
He saw that the reaction was upon her in full force at last. 

"The New Year, my husband," she said, and rose as she 
said it, drawing him after her. 

" I wish you a happy New Year," she said. "Oh help me, 
Oliver." 

She kissed him, and drew back, still holding his hands, 
looking at him with bright tearful eyes. 

"Oliver," she cried again, "I must tell you this. . . . Do 
you know what I thought before you came.''" 

He shook his head, staring at her greedily. How sweet 
she was ! He felt her grip tighten on his hands. 

"I thought I could not bear it," she whispered — "that I 
must end it all — ah ! you know what I mean." 



THE ENCOUNTER 231 

His heart flinched as he heard her ; and he drew her closer 
again to himself. 

"It is all over ! it is all over," she cried. Ah ! do not look 
like that! I could not tell you if it was not." 

As their lips met again there came the vibration of an 
electric bell from the next room, and Oliver, knowing what 
it meant, felt even in that instant a tremor shake his heart. 
He loosed her hands, and still smiled at her. 

"The bell!" she said, with a flash of apprehension. 

"But it is all well between us again.'*" 

Her face steadied itself into loyalty and confidence. 

*'It is aU well," she said; and again the impatient bell 
tingled. "Go, Oliver ; I will wait here." 

A minute later he was back again, with a strange look 
on his white face, and his lips compressed. He came 
straight up to her, taking her once more by the hands, and 
looking steadily into her steady eyes. In the hearts of 
both of them resolve and faith were holding down the emo- 
tion that was not yet dead. He drew a long breath. 

"Yes," he said in an even voice, "it is over." 

Her lips moved ; and that deadly paleness lay on her 
cheeks. He gripped her firmly. 

"Listen," he said. "You must face It. It is over. Rome 
Is gone. Now we must build something better." 

She threw herself sobbing into his arms. 



CHAPTER VIII 



Long before dawn on the first morning of the New Year 
the approaches to the Abbey were already blocked. Vic- 
toria Street, Great George Street, Whitehall — even Mill- 
bank Street itself — were full and motionless. Broad 
Sanctuary, divided by the low-walled motor-track, was it- 
self cut into great blocks and wedges of people by the ways 
which the police kept open for the passage of important 
personages, and Palace Yard was kept rigidly clear except 
for one island, occupied by a stand which was itself full 
from top to bottom and end to end. All roofs and para- 
pets ^hich commanded a view of the Abbey were also one 
mass of heads. Overhead, like solemn moons, burned t!ie 
white lights of the electric globes. 

It was not known at exactly what hour the tumult had 
steadied itself to definite purpose, except to a few weary 
controllers of the temporary turnstiles which had been 
erected the evening before. It had been announced a week 
previously that, in consideration of the enormous demand 
for seats, all persons who presented their worship-ticket 
at an authorised office, and followed the directions issued by 
the police, would be accounted as having fulfilled the duties 
of citizenship in that respect, and it was generally made 
known that it was the Government's intention to toll the 
great bell of the Abbey at the beginning of the ceremony 
and at the incensing of the image, during which period 



THE ENCOUNTER 233 

silence must be as far as possible preserved by all those 
within hearing. 

London had gone completely mad on the announcement 
of the Catholic plot on the afternoon before. The secret 
had leaked out about fourteen o'clock, an hour after the 
betrayal of the scheme to Mr. Snowf ord ; and practically 
all commercial activities had ceased on the instant. By 
fifteen-and-a-half all stores were closed, the Stock Exchange, 
the City offices, the West End establishments — all had as 
by irresistible impulse suspended business, and from within 
two hours after noon until nearly midnight, when the police 
had been adequately reinforced and enabled to deal with 
the situation, whole mobs and armies of men, screaming 
squadrons of women, troops of frantic 3'ouths, had paraded 
the streets, howling, denouncing, and murdering. It was 
not known how many deaths had taken place, but there 
was scarcely a street without the signs of outrage. West- 
minster Cathedral had been sacked, every altar overthrown, 
indescribable indignities performed there. An unknown 
priest had scarcely been able to consume the Blessed Sacra- 
ment before he was seized and throttled ; the Archbishop 
with eleven priests and two bishops had been hanged at 
the north end of the church, thirty-five convents had been 
destroyed, St. George's Cathedral burned to the ground ; 
and it was reported even, by the evening papers, that it was 
believed that, for the first time since the introduction of 
Christianity into England, there was not one Tabernacle 
left within twenty miles of the Abbey. "London," ex- 
plained the New People, in huge headlines, "was cleansed at 
last of dingy and fantastic nonsense." 

It was known at about fifteen-and-a-half o'clock that at 



LORD OF THE WORLD 

least seventy volors had left for Rome, and half-an-hour 
later that Berlin had reinforced them by sixty more. At 
midnight, fortunately at a time when the police had suc- 
ceeded in shepherding the crowds into some kind of order, 
the news was flashed on to cloud and placard alike that the 
grim work was done, and that Rome had ceased to exist. 
The early morning papers added a few details, pointing 
out, of course, the coincidence of the fall with the close of 
the year, relating how, by an astonishing chance, practi- 
cally all the heads of the hierarchy throughout the world 
had been assembled in the Vatican which had been the first 
object of attack, and how these, in desperation, it was sup- 
posed, had refused to leave the City when the news came 
by wireless telegraphy that the punitive force was on its 
way. There was not a building left in Rome; the entire 
place. Leonine City, Trastevere, suburbs — everything was 
gone ; for the volors, poised at an immense height, had par- 
celled out the City beneath them with extreme care, be- 
fore beginning to drop the explosives ; and five minutes 
after the first roar from beneath and the first burst of smoke 
and flying fragments, the thing was finished. The volors 
had then dispersed in every direction, pursuing the motor 
and rail-tracks along which the population had attempted 
to escape so soon as the news was known ; and it was sup- 
posed that not less than thirty thousand belated fugitives 
had been annihilated by this foresight. It was true, re- 
marked the Studio, that many treasures of incalculable 
value had been destroyed, but this was a cheap price to pay 
for the final and complete extermination of the Catholic 
pest. "There comes a point," it remarked, "when destruc- 
tion is the only cure for a vermin-infested house," and it 



THE ENCOUNTER 286 

proceeded to observe that now that the Pope with the entire 
College of Cardinals, all the ex-Royalties of Europe, all 
the most frantic religionists from the inhabited world who 
had taken up their abode in the "Holy City" were gone at 
a stroke, a recrudescence of the superstition was scarcely to 
be feared elsewhere. Yet care must even now be taken 
against any relenting. Catholics (if any were left bold 
enough to attempt it) must no longer be allowed to take 
any kind of part in the life of any civilised country. So 
far as messages had come in from other countries, there 
was but one chorus of approval at what had been done. 
A few papers regretted the incident, or rather the spirit 
which had lain behind it. It was not seemly, they said, that 
Humanitarians should have recourse to violence; yet not 
one pretended that anything could be felt but thanksgiv- 
ing for the general result. Ireland, too, must be brought 
into line; they must not dally any longer. 

It was now brightening slowly towards dawn, and beyond 
the river through the faint wintry haze a crimson streak 
or two began to burn. But all was surprisingly quiet, for 
this crowd, tired out with an all-night watch, chilled by 
the bitter cold, and intent on what lay before them, had 
no energy left for useless effort. Only from packed square 
and street and lane went up a deep, steady murmur like the 
sound of the sea a mile away, broken now and again by the 
hoot and clang of a motor and the rush of its passage as 
it tore eastwards round the circle through Broad Sanc- 
tuary and vanished citywards. And the light broadened 
and the electric globes sickened and paled, and the haze 
began to clear a little, showing, not the fresh blue that had 



S36 LORD OF THE WORLD 

been hoped for from the cold of the night, but a high, 
colourless vault of cloud, washed with grey and faint rose- 
colour, as the sun came up, a ruddy copper disc, beyond the 
river. 

At nine o'clock the excitement rose a degree higher. The 
police between Whitehall and the Abbey, looking from 
their high platforms strung along the route, whence they 
kept watch and controlled the wire palisadings, showed a 
certain activity, and a minute later a police-ear whirled 
through the square between the palings, and vanished round 
the Abbey towers. The crowd murmured and shuffled and 
began to expect, and a cheer was raised when a moment 
later four more cars appeared, bearing the Government in- 
signia, and disappeared in the same direction. These were 
the officials, they said, going to Dean's Yard, where the 
procession would assemble. 

At about a quarter to ten the crowd at the west end of 
Victoria Street began to raise its voice in a song, and by 
the time that was over, and the bells had burst out from 
the Abbey towers, a rumour had somehow made its entrance 
that Felsenburgh was to be present at the ceremony. There 
was no assignable reason for this, neither then nor after- 
wards ; in fact, the Evening Star declared that it was one 
more instance of the astonishing instinct of human beings 
en masse; for it was not until an hour later that even the 
Government were made aware of the facts. Yet the truth 
remained that at half-past ten one continuous roar went 
up, drowning even the brazen clamour of the bells, reach- 
ing round to Whitehall and the crowded pavements of 
Westminster Bridge, demanding Julian Felsenburgh. Yet 



THE ENCOUNTER 237 

there had been absolutely no news of the President of Eu- 
rope for the last fortnight, beyond an entirely unsupported 
report that he was somewhere in the East. 

And all the while the motors poured from all directions 
towards the Abbey and disappeared under the arch into 
Dean's Yard, bearing those fortunate persons whose tickets 
actually admitted them to the church itself. Cheers ran 
and rippled along the lines as the great men were recog- 
nised — Lord Pemberton, Oliver Brand and his wife, IMr. 
Caldecott, Maxwell, Snowford, with the European dele- 
gates — even melancholy-faced Mr. Francis himself, the 
Government ceremoniarius, received a greeting. But by a 
quarter to eleven, when the pealing bells paused, the stream 
had stopped, the barriers issued out to stop the roads, the 
wire palisadings vanished, and the crowd for an instant, 
ceasing its roaring, sighed with relief at the relaxed pres- 
sure, and surged out into the roadways. Then once more 
the roaring began for Julian Felscnburgh. 

The sun was now high, still a copper disc, above the Vic- 
toria Tower, but paler than an hour ago ; the whiteness of 
the Abbey, the heavy greys of Parliament House, the ten 
thousand tints of house-roofs, heads, streamers, placards 
began to disclose themselves. 

A single bell tolled five minutes to the hour, and the 
moments slipped by, until once more the bell stopped, and 
to the ears of those within hearing of the great west doors 
came the first blare of the huge organ, reinforced by trum- 
pets. And then, as sudden and profound as the hush of 
death, there fell an enormous silence. 



238 LORD OF THE WORLD 

II 

As the five-minutes bell began, sounding like a continuous 
wind-note in the great vaults overhead, solemn and per- 
sistent, Mabel drew a long breath and leaned back in her 
seat from the rigid position in which for the last half- 
hour she had been staring out at the wonderful sight. She 
seemed to herself to have assimilated it at last, to be herself 
once more, to have drunk her fill of the triumph and the 
beauty. She was as one who looks upon a summer sea on 
the morning after a storm. And now the climax was at 
hand. 

From end to end and side to side the interior of the 
Abbey presented a great broken mosaic of human faces ; 
living slopes, walls, sections and curves. The south tran- 
sept directly opposite to her, from pavement to rose win- 
dow, was one sheet of heads ; the floor was paved with them, 
cut in two by the scarlet of the gangway leading from the 
chapel of St. Faith — on the right, the choir beyond the 
open space before the sanctuary was a mass of white fig- 
ures, scarved and surpliced ; the high organ gallery, beneath 
which the screen had been removed, Avas crowded with them, 
and, far down beneath, the dim nave stretched the same end- 
less pale living pavement to the shadow beneath the west 
window. Between every group of columns behind the 
choir-stalls, before her, to right, left, and behind, were plat- 
forms contrived in the masonry ; and the exquisite roof, 
fan-tracery and soaring capital, alone gave the eye an 
escape from humanity. The whole vast space was full, it 
seemed, of delicate sunlight that streamed in from the arti- 
ficial light set outside each window, and poured the ruby 



THE ENCOUNTER 259 

and the purple and the blue from the old glass in long 
shafts of colour across the dust}' air, and in broken patches 
on the faces and dresses behind. The murmur of ten thou- 
sand voices filled the place, supplying, it seemed, a solemn 
accompaniment to that melodious note that now pulsed 
above it. And finally, more significant than all, was the 
empty carpeted sanctuary at her feet, the enormous altar 
with its flight of steps, the gorgeous curtain and the great 
untenanted sedilia. 

Mabel needed some such reassurance, for last night, un- 
til the coming of Oliver, had passed for her as a kind of 
appalling waking dream. From the first shock of what 
she had seen outside the church, through those hours of 
waiting, with the knowledge that this was the way in which 
the Spirit of Peace asserted its superiority, up to that last 
moment when, in her husband's arms, she had learned of the 
Fall of Rome, it had appeared to her as if her new world 
had suddenly corrupted about her. It was incredible, she 
told herself, that this ravening monster, dripping blood 
from claws and teeth, that had arisen roaring in the night, 
could be the Humanity that had become her God. She had 
thought revenge and cruelty and slaughter to be the brood 
of Christian superstition, dead and buried under the new- 
bom angel of light, and now it seemed that the monsters 
yet stirred and lived. All the evening she had sat, walked, 
lain about her quiet house with the horror heavy about her, 
flinging open a window now and again in the icy air to 
listen with clenched hands to the cries and the roarings of 
the mob that raged in the streets beneath, the clanks, the 
yells and the hoots of the motor-trains that tore up from 



no LORD OF THE WORLD 

the country to swell the frenzy of the city — to watch the 
red glow of fire, the volumes of smoke that heaved up from 
the burning chapels and convents. 

She had questioned, doubted, resisted her doubts, flung 
out frantic acts of faith, attempted to renew the confidence 
that she attained in her meditation, told herself that tradi- 
tions died slowly ; she had knelt, crying out to the spirit of 
peace that lay, as she knew so well, at the heart of man, 
though overwhelmed for the moment by evil passion. A 
line or two ran in her head from one of the old Victorian 
poets : 

You doubt 

If any one 
Could think or bid it.'' 
How could it come about.'' ... 
Who did it.? 
Not men ! Not here ! 
Oh ! not beneath the sun. . . . 

. . . The torch that smouldered till the cup o'er-ran 
The wrath of God which is the wrath of Man ! 

She had even contemplated death, as she had told her 
husband — the taking of her own life, in a great despair 
with the world. Seriously she had thought of it ; it was an 
escape perfectly in accord with her morality. The useless 
and agonising were put out of the world by common con- 
sent ; the Euthanasia houses witnessed to it. Then why 
not she.? , . . For she could not bear it! . . . Then Oliver 
had come, she had fought her way back to sanity and con- 
fidence ; and the phantom had gone again. 

How sensible and quiet he had been, she was beginning 
to tell herself now, as the quiet influence of this huge throng 



THE ENCOUNTER 241 

in this glorious place of worship possessed her once more — 
how reasonable in his explanation that man was even now 
only convalescent and therefore liable to relapse. She had 
told herself that again and again during the night, but 
'd had been different when he had said so. His personality 
had once more prevailed ; and the name of Felsenburgh had 
finished the work. 

"If He were but here !" she sighed. But she knew He was 
far away. 

It was not until a quarter to eleven that she understood 
that the crowds outside were clamouring for Him too, and 
that knowledge reassured her yet further. They knew, 
then, these wild tigers, where their redemption lay ; they 
understood what was their ideal, even if they had not at- 
tained to it. Ah ! if He were but here, there would be no 
more question : the sullen waves would sink beneath His 
call of peace, the hazy clouds lift, the rumble die to silence. 
But He was away — away on some strange business. Well ; 
He knew His work. He would surely come soon again to 
His children who needed Him so terribly. 

She had the good fortune to be alone in a crowd. Her 
neighbour, a grizzled old man with his daughters beyond, 
was her only neighbour, and a stranger. At her left rose 
up the red-covered barricade over which she could see the 
sanctuary and the curtain ; and her seat in the tribune, 
raised some eight feet above the floor, removed her from any 
possibility of conversation. She was thankful for that : she 
did not want to talk ; she wanted only to control her facul- 
ties in silence, to reassert her faith, to look out over this 



U^ LORD OF THE WORLD 

enormous throng gathered to pay homage to the great 
Spirit whom they had betrayed, to renew her own courage 
and faithfuhiess. She wondered wliat the preacher would 
say, whether there would be any note of penitence. Ma- 
ternity was his subject — that benign aspect of universal 
life — tenderness, love, quiet, receptive, protective passion, 
the spirit that soothes rather than inspires, that busies itself 
with peaceful tasks, that kindles the lights and fires of 
home, that gives sleep, food and welcome. . . . 

The bell stopped, and in the instant before the music 
began she heard, clear above the mumiur within, the roar of 
the crowds outside, who still demanded their God. Then, 
with a crash, the huge organ awoke, pierced by the cry of 
the trumpets and the maddening throb of drums. There 
was no delicate prelude here, no slow stirring of life rising 
through labyrinths of mystery to the climax of sight — 
here rather was full-orbed day, the high noon of knowledge 
and power, the dayspring from on high, dawning in mid- 
heaven. Her heart quickened to meet it, and her reviving 
confidence, still convalescent, stirred and smiled, as the tre- 
mendous chords blared overhead, telling of triumph full- 
armed. God was man, then, after all — a God who last 
night had faltered for an hour, but who rose again on 
this morning of a new year, scattering mists, dominant 
over his own passion, all-compelling and all-beloved. God 
was man, and Felsenburgh his Incarnation ! Yes, she must 
believe that ! She did believe that ! 

Then she saw how already the long procession was wind- 
ing up beneath the screen, and by imperceptible art the 
light grew yet more acutely beautiful. ^ They were com- 
ing, then, those ministers of a pure worship ; grave men 



THE ENCOUNTER 243 

who knew in what they believed, and who, even if they 
did not at this moment thrill with feeling (for she knew that 
in this respect her husband for one did not), yet believed 
the principles of this worship and recognised their need of 
expression for the majority of mankind — coming slowly 
up in fours and pairs and units, led by robed vergers, rip- 
pling over the steps, and emerging again into the coloured 
sunlight in all their bravery of Masonic apron, badge and 
jewel. Surely here was reassurance enough. 

The sanctuary now held a figure or two. Anxious-faced 
Mr. Francis, in his robes of office, came gravely down the 
steps and stood awaiting the procession, directing with 
almost imperceptible motions his satellites who hovered 
about the aisles ready to point this way and that to the 
advancing stream ; and the western-most seats were already 
beginning to fill, when on a sudden she recognised that 
something had happened. 

Just now the roaring of the mob outside had provided 
a kind of underbass to the music within, imperceptible ex- 
cept to sub-consciousness, but clearly discernible in its ab- 
sence ; and this absence was now a fact. 

At first she thought that the signal of beginning worship 
had hushed them ; and then, with an indescribable thrill, she 
remembered that in all her knowledge only one thing had 
ever availed to quiet a turbulent crowd. Yet she was not 
sure; it might be an illusion. Even now the mob might be 
roaring still, and she only deaf to it ; but again with an 
ecstasy that was very near to agony slie perceived that 
the murmur of voices even within the building had ceased, 
and that some great wave of emotion was stirring the 



244. LORD OF THE WORLD 

sheets and slopes of faces before her as a wind stirs wheat. 
A moment later, and she was on her feet, gripping the rail, 
with her heart like an over-driven engine beating pulses of 
blood, furious and insistent, through every vein ; for with a 
great rushing surge that sounded like a sigh, heard even 
above the triumphant tumult overhead, the whole enormous 
assemblage had risen to its feet. 

Confusion seemed to break out in the orderly procession. 
She saw Mr. Francis run forward quickly, gesticulating 
like a conductor, and at his signal the long line swayed for- 
ward, split, recoiled, and again slid swiftly forward, break- 
ing as it did so into twenty streams that poured along the 
seats and filled them in a moment. Men ran and pushed, 
aprons flapped, hands beckoned, all without coherent words. 

There was a knocking of feet, the crash of an overturned 
chair, and then, as if a god had lifted his hand for quiet, the 
music ceased abruptly, sending a wild echo that swooned 
and died in a moment ; a great sigh filled its place, and, 
in the coloured sunshine that lay along the immense length 
of the gangway that ran open now from west to east, far 
down in the distant nave, a single figure was seen advancing. 



Ill 



What Mabel saw and heard and felt from eleven o'clock 
to half-an-hour after noon on that first morning of the 
New Year she could never adequately remember. For the 
time she lost the continuous consciousness of self, the 
power of reflection, for she was still weak from her struggle ; 
there was no longer in her the process by which events are 



THE ENCOUNTER 245 

stored, labelled and recorded ; she was no more than a being 
who observed as it were in one long act, across which con- 
siderations played at uncertain intervals. Eyes and ear 
seemed her sole functions, communicating direct with a 
burning heart. 

She did not even know at what point her senses told her 
that this was Felsenburgh. She seemed to have known it 
even before he entered, and she watched Him as in complete 
silence He came dehberately up the red carpet, superbly 
alone, rising a step or two at the entrance of the choir, 
passing on and up before her. He was in his English 
judicial dress of scarlet and black, but she scarcely noticed 
it. For her, too, no one else existed but He; this vast as- 
semblage was gone, poised and transfigured in one vibrat- 
ing atmosphere of an immense human emotion. There was 
no one, anywhere, but Julian Felsenburgh. Peace and 
light burned like a glory about Him. 

For an instant after passing he disappeared beyond the 
speaker's tribune, and the instant after reappeared once 
more, coming up the steps. He reached his place — she 
could see His profile beneath her and slightly to the left, 
pure and keen as the blade of a knife, beneath His white 
hair. He lifted one white-furred sleeve, made a single mo- 
tion, and with a surge and a rumble, the ten thousand were 
seated. He motioned again and with a roar they were on 
their feet. 

Again there was a silence. He stood now, perfectly still. 
His hands laid together on the rail, and His face looking 
steadily before Him ; it seemed as if He who had drawn all 
eyes and stilled all sounds were waiting until His domina- 



246 LORD OF THE WORLD 

tion were complete, and there was but one will, one desire, 
and that beneath His hand. Then He began to speak. . . . 

In this again, as Mabel perceived afterwards, there was 
no precise or verbal record within her of what he said ; 
there was no conscious process by which she received, tested, 
or approved what she heard. The nearest image under 
which she could afterwards describe her emotions to her- 
self, was that when He spoke it was she who was speak- 
ing. Her own thoughts, her predispositions, her griefs, 
her disappointment, her passion, her hopes — all these in- 
terior acts of the soul known scarcely even to herself, down 
even, it seemed, to the minutest whorls and eddies of 
thought, were, by this man, lifted up, cleansed, kindled, 
satisfied and proclaimed. For the first time in her life she 
became perfectly aware of what human nature meant; for 
it was her own heart that passed out upon the air, borne 
on that immense voice. Again, as once before for a few 
moments in Paul's House, it seemed that creation, groan- 
ing so long, had spoken articulate words at last — had come 
to growth and coherent thought and perfect speech. Yet 
then He had spoken to men ; now it was Man Himself 
speaking. It was not one man who spoke there, it was Man 
— Man conscious of his origin, his destiny, and his pil- 
grimage between, Man sane again after a night of mad- 
ness — knowing his strength, declaring his law, lamenting 
in a voice as eloquent as stringed instruments his own fail- 
ure to correspond. It was a soliloquy rather than an ora- 
tion. Rome had fallen, English and Italian streets had 
run with blood, smoke and flame had gone up to heaven, 
because man had for an instant sunk back to the tiger. Yet 



THE ENCOUNTER 247 

it was done, cried the great voice, and there was no re- 
pentance; it was done, and ages hence man must still do 
penance and flush scarlet with shame to remember that once 
he turned his back on the risen light. 

There was no appeal to the lurid, no picture of the tum- 
bling palaces, the running figures, the coughing explosions, 
the shaking of the earth and the dying of the doomed. It 
was rather with those hot hearts shouting in the English 
and German streets, or aloft in the winter air of Italy, the 
ugly passions that warred there, as the volors rocked at 
their stations, generating and fulfilling revenge, paying 
back plot with plot, and violence with violence. For there, 
cried the voice, was man as he had been, fallen in an in- 
stant to the cruel old ages before he had learned what he 
was and why. 

There was no repentance, said the voice again, but there 
was something better; and as the hard, stinging tones 
melted, the girl's dry eyes of shame filled in an instant with 
tears. There was something better — the knowledge of 
what crimes man was yet capable of, and the will to use that 
knowledge. Rome was gone, and it was a lamentable 
shame ; Rome was gone, and the air was the sweeter for 
it ; and then in an instant, like the soar of a bird, He was 
up and away — away from the horrid gulf where He had 
looked just now, from the fragments of charred bodies, 
and tumbled houses and all the signs of man's disgrace, 
to the pure air and sunlight to which man must once more 
set his face. Yet He bore with Him in that wonderful 
flight the dew of tears and the aroma of earth. He had 
not spared words with which to lash and whip the naked 
human heart, and He did not spare words to lift up the 



248 LORD OF THE WORLD 

bleeding, shrinking thing, and comfort it with the divine 
vision of love. . . . 

Historically speaking, it was about forty minutes before 
He turned to the shrouded image behind the altar. 

"Oh! Maternity!" he cried. "Mother of us all " 

And then, to those who heard Him, the supreme miracle 
took place. . . . For it seemed now in an instant that it 
was no longer man who spoke, but One who stood upon 
the stage of the superhuman. The curtain ripped back, as 
one who stood by it tore, panting, at the strings ; and there, 
it seemed, face to face stood the Mother above the altar, 
huge, white and protective, and the Child, one passionate 
incarnation of love, crying to her from the tribune. 
"Oh ! Mother of us all, and Mother of Me !" 
So He praised her to her face, that sublime principle of 
life, declared her glories and her strength, her Immaculate 
Motherhood, her seven swords of anguish driven through 
her heart by the passion and the follies of her Son — He 
promised her great things, the recognition of her countless 
children, the love and service of the unborn, the welcome 
of those yet quickening within the womb. He named her 
the Wisdom of the INIost High, that sweetly orders all 
things, the Gate of Heaven, House of Ivory, Comforter 
of the afflicted. Queen of the World; and, to the delirious 
eyes of those who looked on her it seemed that the grave 
face smiled to hear Him. . . . 

A great panting as of some monstrous life began to fill 
the air as the mob swayed behind Him, and the torrential 
voice poured on. Waves of emotion swept up and down; 
there were cries and sobs, the yelping of a man beside him- 
self at last, from somewhere among the crowded seats, the 



THE ENCOUNTER 249 

crash of a bench, and another and another, and the gang- 
M'ays were full, for He no longer held them passive to lis- 
ten ; He was rousing them to some supreme act. The tide 
crawled nearer, and the faces stared no longer at the Son 
but the Mother; the girl in the gallery tore at the heavy 
railing, and sank down sobbing upon her knees. And above 
all the voice pealed on — and the thin hands blanched to 
whiteness strained from the wide and sumptuous sleeves as 
if to reach across the sanctuary itself. 

It was a new tale He was telling now, and all to her 
glory. He was from the East, now they knew, come from 
some triumph. He had been hailed as King, adored as 
Divine, as was meet and right — He, the humble superhu- 
man son of a Human Mother — who bore not a sword but 
peace, not a cross but a crown. So it seemed He was say- 
ing; yet no man there knew whether He said it or not — 
whether the voice proclaimed it, or their hearts asserted it. 

He was on the steps of the sanctuary now, still with out- 
stretched hands and pouring words, and the mob rolled 
after him to the rumble of ten thousand feet and the sigh- 
ing of ten thousand hearts. . . . He was at the altar; He 
was upon it. Again in one last cry, as the crowd broke 
against the steps beneath, He hailed her Queen and 
Mother. 

The end came in a moment, swift and inevitable. And 
for an instant, before the girl in the gallery sank down, 
blind with tears, she saw the tiny figure poised there at 
the knees of the huge image, beneath the expectant hands, 
silent and transfigured in the blaze of light. The Mother, 
it seemed, had found her Son at last. 

For an insant she saw it, the soaring columns, the gilding 



250 LORD OF THE WORLD 

and the colours, the swaying heads, the tossing hands. 
It was a sea that heaved before her, lights went up and 
down, the rose window whirled overhead, presences filled 
the air, heaven flashed away, and the earth shook in ecstasy. 
Then in the heavenly light, to the crash of drums, above 
the screaming of the women and the battering of feet, in 
one thunder-peal of worship ten thousand voices hailed 
Him Lord and God. 



BOOK III— THE VICTORY 



CHAPTER I 



The little room where the new Pope sat reading was a 
model of simplicity. Its walls were whitewashed, its roof 
unpolished rafters, and its floor beaten mud. A square table 
stood in the centre, with a chair beside it; a cold brazier 
laid for lighting, stood in the wide hearth; a bookshelf 
against the wall held a dozen volumes. There were three 
doors, one leading to the private oratory, one to the ante- 
room, and the third to the little paved court. The south 
windows were shuttered, but through the ill-fitting hinges 
streamed knife-blades of fiery light from the hot Eastern 
day outside. 

It was the time of the mid-day siesta, and except for the 
brisk scything of the cicade from the hill-slope behind the 
house, all was in deep silence. 

The Pope, who had dined an hour before, had hardly 
shifted His attitude in all that time, so intent was He upon 
His reading. For the while, all was put away. His own 
memory of those last three months, the bitter anxiety, the 
intolerable load of responsibility. The book He held was 
a cheap reprint of the famous biography of Julian Felsen- 



252 LORD OF THE WORLD 

burgh, issued a month before, and He was now drawing to 
an end. 

It was a terse, well-written book, composed by an unknown 
hand, and some even suspected it to be the disguised work 
of Felsenburgh himself. More, however, considered that 
it was written at least with Felsenburgh's consent by one 
of that small body of intimates whom he had admitted to 
his society — that body which under him now conducted the 
affairs of West and East. From certain indications in the 
book it had been argued that its actual writer was a 
Westerner. 

The main body of the work dealt with his life, or rather 
with those two or three years known to the world, from his 
rapid rise in American politics and his mediation in the 
East down to the event of five months ago, when in swift 
succession he had been hailed Messiah in Damascus, had 
been formally adored in London, and finall}' elected by an 
extraordinary majority to the Tribuniciate of the two 
Americas. 

The Pope had read rapidly through these objective facts, 
for He knew them well enough already, and was now study- 
ing with close attention the summary of his character, or 
rather, as the author rather sententiously explained, the 
summary of his self-manifestation to the world. He read 
the description of his two main characteristics, his grasp 
upon words and facts ; "words, the daughters of earth, 
were wedded in this man to facts, the sons of heaven, and 
Superman was their offspring." His minor characteristics, 
too, were noticed, his appetite for literature, his astonish- 
ing memory, his linguistic powers. He possessed, it ap- 
peared, both the telescopic and the microscopic eye — he 



THE VICTORY 253 

discerned world-wide tendencies and movements on the one 
hand ; he had a passionate capacity for detail on the other. 
Various anecdotes illustrated these remarks, and a number 
of terse aphorisms of his were recorded. "No man for- 
gives," he said ; "he only understands." "It needs supreme 
faith to renounce a transcendent God." "A man who be- 
lieves in himself is almost capable of believing in his neigh- 
bour." Here was a sentence that to the Pope's mind was 
significant of that sublime egotism that is alone capable of 
confronting the Christian spirit: and again, "To forgive 
a wrong is to condone a crime," and "The strong man is 
accessible to no one, but all are accessible to him." 

There was a certain pompousness in this array of remarks, 
but it lay, as the Pope saw very well, not in the speaker 
but in the scribe. To him who had seen the speaker it was 
plain how they had been uttered — with no pontifical 
solemnity, but whirled out in a fiery stream of eloquence, or 
spoken with that strangely moving simplicity that had con- 
stituted his first assault on London. It was possible to hate 
Felsenburgh, and to fear him; but never to be amused at 
him. 

But plainly the supreme pleasure of the writer was to 
trace the analogy between his hero and nature. In both 
there was the same apparent contradictoriness — the com- 
bination of utter tenderness and utter ruthlessness. "The 
power that heals wounds also inflicts them : that clothes the 
dungheap with sweet growths and grasses, breaks, too, into 
fire and earthquake ; that causes the partridge to die for her 
young, also makes the shrike with his living larder." So, 
too, with Felsenburgh; He who had wept over the Fall of 
Rome, a month later had spoken of extermination as an 



264 LORD OF THE WORLD 

instrument that even now might be judicially used in the 
service of humanity. Only it must be used with delibera- 
tion, not with passion. 

The utterance had aroused extraordinary interest, since 
it seemed so paradoxical from one who preached peace and 
toleration ; and argument had broken out all over the 
world. But beyond enforcing the dispersal of the Irish 
Catholics, and the execution of a few individuals, so far 
that utterance had not been acted upon. Yet the world 
seemed as a whole to have accepted it, and even now to be 
waiting for its fulfilment. 

As the biographer pointed out, the world enclosed in physi- 
cal nature should welcome one who followed its precepts, 
one who was indeed the first to introduce deliberately and 
confessedly into human affairs such laws as those of the 
Survival of the Fittest and the immorality of forgiveness. 
If there was mystery in the one, there was mystery in the 
other, and both must be accepted if man was to develop. 

And the secret of this, it seemed, lay in His personality. 
To see Him was to believe in Him, or rather to accept Him 
as inevitably true. "We do not explain nature or escape 
from it by sentimental regrets : the hare cries like a child, 
the wounded stag weeps great tears, the robin kills his 
parents ; life exists only on condition of death ; and these 
things happen however we may weave theories that explain 
nothing. Life must be accepted on those terms ; we cannot 
be wrong if we follow nature ; rather to accept them is to 
find peace — our great mother only reveals her secrets to 
those who take her as she is." So, too, with Felsenburgh. 
"It is not for us to discriminate : His personality is of a 
kind that does not admit it. He is complete and sufficing 



THE VICTORY 255 

for those who trust Him and are wilh'ng to suffer; an hos- 
tile and hateful enigma to those who are not. We must 
prepare ourselves for the logical outcome of this doctrine. 
Sentimentality must not be permitted to dominate reason." 

Finally, then, the writer showed how to this Man be- 
longed properly all those titles hitherto lavished upon 
imagined Supreme Beings. It was in preparation for Him 
that these types came into the realms of thought and in- 
fluenced men's lives. 

He was the Creator, for it was reserved for Him to bring 
into being the perfect life of union to which all the world 
had hitherto groaned in vain ; it was in His own image 
and likeness that He had made man. 

Yet He was the Redeemer too, for that likeness had in one 
sense always underlain the tumult of mistake and con- 
flict. He had brought man out of darkness and the 
shadow of death, guiding their feet into the way of peace. 
He was the Saviour for the same reason — the Son of Man, 
for He alone was perfectly human; He was the Absolute, 
for He was the content of Ideals ; the Eternal, for He had 
lain always in nature's potentiality and secured by His 
being the continuity of that order; the Infinite, for all 
finite things fell short of Him who was more than their sum. 

He was Alpha, then, and Omega, the beginning and the 
end, the first and the last. He was Dominus et Deus noster 
(as Domitian had been, the Pope reflected). He was as 
simple and as complex as life itself — simple in its essence, 
complex in its activities. 

And last of all, the supreme proof of His mission lay in 
the immortal nature of His message. There was no more 
to be added to what He had brought to light — for in Him 



256 LORD OF THE WORLD 

all diverging lines at last found their origin and their end. 
As to whether or no He would prove to be personally im- 
mortal was an wholly irrelevant thought ; it would be indeed 
fitting if through His means the vital principle should dis- 
close its last secret ; but no more than fitting. Already 
His spirit was in the world ; the individual was no more 
separate from his fellows ; death no more than a wrinkle 
that came and went across the inviolable sea. For man 
had learned at last that the race was all and self was noth- 
ing; the cell had discovered the unity of the body; even, 
the greatest thinkers declared, the consciousness of the in- 
dividual had yielded the title of Personality to the corporate 
mass of man — and the restlessness of the unit had sunk into 
the peace of a common Hvniianity, for nothing but this 
could explain the cessation of party strife and national 
competition — and this, above all, had been the work of 
Felsenburgh. 

"Behold I am xvith you always," quoted the writer in a 
passionate peroration, "even noxc in the consummation of 
the world; and the Comforter is come unto you. I am the 
Door — the Way, the Truth and the Life — the Bread of 
Life and the Water of Life. My name is Wonderful, the 
Prince of Peace, the Father Everlasting. It is I who am 
the Desire of all nations, the fairest among the children of 
men — and of my Kingdom there shall be no end." 

The Pope laid down the book, and leaned back, closing his 
eyes. 



THE VICTORY 257 

II 

And as for Himself, what had He to say to all this? A 
Transcendent God Who hid Himself, a Divine Saviour 
Who delayed to come, a Comforter heard no longer in 
wind nor seen in fire ! 

There, in the next room, was a little wooden altar, and 
above it an iron box, and within that box a silver cup, 
and within that cup — Something. Outside the house, a 
hundred yards away, lay the domes and plaster roofs of 
a little village called Nazareth ; Carmel was on the right, 
a mile or two away, Thabor on the left, the plain of 
Esdraelon in front ; and behind, Cana and Galilee, and the 
quiet lake, and Hermon. And far away to the south lay 
Jerusalem. . . . 

It was to this tiny strip of holy land that the Pope had 
come — the land where a Faith had sprouted two thousand 
years ago, and where, unless God spoke in fire from heaven, 
it would presently be cut down as a cumberer of the 
ground. It was here on this material earth that One had 
walked Whom all men had thought to have been He Who 
would redeem Israel — in this village that He had fetched 
water and made boxes and chairs, on that long lake that 
His Feet had walked, on that high hill that He had flamed 
in glory, on that smooth, low mountain to the north that He 
had declared that the meek were blessed and should inherit 
the earth, that peacemakers were the children of God, that 
they who hungered and thirsted should be satisfied. 

And now it was come to this. Christianity had smouldered 
away from Europe Uke a sunset on darkening peaks ; Eter- 
nal Rome was a heap of ruins ; in East and West alike a 



258 LORD OF THE WORLD 

man liad been set upon the throne of God, had been ac- 
claimed as divine. The world had leaped forward ; social 
science was supreme ; men had learned consistency ; they 
had learned, too, the social lessons of Christianity apart 
from a Divine Teacher, or, rather, they said, in spite of 
Him. There were left, perhaps, three millions, perhaps 
five, at the utmost ten millions — it was impossible to know 
— throughout the entire inhabited globe who still wor- 
shipped Jesus Christ as God. And the Vicar of Christ sat 
in a whitewashed room in Nazareth, dressed as simply as 
His master, waiting for the end. 

He had done what He could. There had been a week five 
months ago when it had been doubtful whether anything 
at all could be done. There were left three Cardinals alive. 
Himself, Steinmann, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem; the 
rest lay mangled somewhere in the ruins of Rome. There 
was no precedent to follow ; so the two Europeans had made 
their way out to the East, and to the one town in it where 
quiet still reigned. With the disappearance of Greek 
Christianity there had also vanished the last remnants of 
internecine war in Christendom ; and by a kind of tacit 
consent of the world. Christians were allowed a moderate 
liberty in Palestine. Russia, which now held the country 
as a dependency, had sufficient sentiment left to leave it 
alone ; it was true that the holy places had been desecrated, 
and remained now only as spots of antiquarian interest ; 
the altars were gone but the sites were yet marked, and, 
although mass could no longer be said there, it was under- 
stood that private oratories were not forbidden. 

It was in this state that the two European Cardinals had 



THE VICTORY 269 

found the Holy City ; it was not thought wise to wear in- 
signia of any description in public ; and it was practically 
certain even now that the civilised world was unaware of 
their existence; for within three days of their arrival the 
old Patriarch had died, yet not before Percy Franklin, 
surely under the strangest circumstances since those of the 
first century, had been elected to the Supreme Pontificate. 
It had all been done in a few minutes by the dying man's 
bedside. The two old men had insisted. The German 
had even recurred once more to the strange resemblance 
between Percy and Julian Felsenburgh, and had murmured 
his old half-heard remarks about the antithesis, and the Fin- 
ger of God ; and Percy, marvelling at his superstition, had 
accepted, and the election was recorded. He had taken the 
name of Silvester, the last saint in the year, and was the 
third of that title. He had then retired to Nazareth with 
his chaplain ; Steinmann had gone back to Germany, and 
been hanged in a riot within a fortnight of his arrival. 

The next matter was the creation of new cardinals, and 
to twenty persons, with infinite precautions, briefs had been 
conveyed. Of these, nine had declined ; three more had been 
approached, of whom only one had accepted. There were 
therefore at this moment twelve persons in the world who 
constituted the Sacred College — two Englishmen, of whom 
Corkran was one ; two Americans, a Frenchman, a German, 
an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole, a Chinaman, a Greek, and 
a Russian. To these were entrusted vast districts over 
which their control was supreme, subject only to the Holy 
Father Himself. 

As regarded the Pope's own life very little need be said. 
It resembled, He thought, in its outward circumstances that 



260 LORD OF THE WORLD 

of such a man as Leo the Great, without His worldly Im- 
portance or pomp. Theoretically, the Christian world was 
under His dominion ; practically, Christian affairs were 
administered by local authorities. It was impossible for a 
hundred reasons for Him to do what He wished with regard 
to the exchange of communications. An elaborate cypher 
had been designed, and a private telegraphic station or- 
ganised on His roof communicating with another in 
Damascus where Cardinal Corkran had fixed his residence ; 
and from that centre messages occasionally were despatched 
to ecclesiastical authorities elsewhere ; but, for the most 
part, there was little to be done. The Pope, however, had 
the satisfaction of knowing that, with incredible difficulty, 
a little progress had been made towards the reorganisa- 
tion of the hierarchy in all countries. Bishops were being 
consecrated freely ; there were not less than two thousand 
of them all told, and of priests an unknown number. The 
Order of Christ Crucified Avas doing excellent work, and 
the tales of not less than four hundred martyrdoms had 
reached Nazareth during the last two months, accomplished 
mostly at the hands of the mobs. 

In other respects, also, as well as in the primary object 
of the Order's existence (namely, the affording of an 
opportunity to all who loved God to dedicate themselves 
to Him more perfectly), the new Religious were doing 
good work. The more perilous tasks — the work of com- 
munication between prelates, missions to persons of sus- 
pected integrity — all the business, in fact, which was car- 
ried on now at the vital risk of the agent were entrusted 
solely to members of the Order. Stringent instructions 
had been issued from Nazareth that no bishop was to expose 



THE VICTORY 261 

himself unnecessarily ; each was to regard himself as the 
heart of his diocese to be protected at all costs save that of 
Christian honour, and in consequence each had surrounded 
himself with a group of the new Religious — men and women 
— who with extraordinary and generous obedience under- 
took such dangerous tasks as they were capable of perform- 
ing. It was plain enough by now that had it not been for 
the Order, the Church would have been little better than 
paralysed under these new conditions. 

Extraordinary facilities were being issued in all directions. 
Every priest who belonged to the Order received universal 
jurisdiction subject to the bishop, if any, of the diocese 
in which he might be ; mass might be said on any day of the 
year of the Five Wounds, or the Resurrection, or Our 
Lady ; and all had the privilege of the portable altar, now 
permitted to be wood. Further ritual requirements were 
relaxed ; mass might be said with any decent vessels of any 
material capable of destruction, such as glass or china; 
bread of any description might be used; and no vestments 
were obligatory except the thin thread that now represented 
the stole ; lights were non-essential ; none need wear the 
clerical habit ; and rosary, even without beads, was always 
permissible instead of the Office. 

In this manner priests were rendered capable of giving 
the sacraments and offering the holy sacrifice at the least 
possible risk to themselves ; and these relaxations had al- 
ready proved of enormous benefit in the European prisons, 
where by this time many thousands of Catholics were under- 
going the penalty of refusing public worship. 

The Pope's private life was as simple as His room. He 



LORD OF THE WORLD 

had one Syrian priest for His chaplain, and two Syrian 
servants. He said His mass each morning, Himself wearing 
vestments and His white habit beneath, and heard a mass 
after. Pie then took His coffee, after changing into the 
tunic and burnous of the country, and spent the morning 
over business. He dined at noon, slept, and rode out, for 
the country by reason of its indeterminate position was still 
in the simplicity of a hundred years ago. He returned at 
dusk, supped, and worked again till late into the night. 

That was all. His chaplain sent what messages were 
necessary to Damascus ; His servants, themselves ignorant 
of His dignity, dealt with the secular world so far as was 
required, and the utmost that seemed to be known to His 
few neighbours was that there lived in the late Sheikh's 
little house on the hill an eccentric European with a tele- 
graph office. His servants, themselves devout Catholics, 
knew Him for a bishop, but no more than that. They 
were told only that there was yet a Pope alive, and with 
that and the sacraments were content. 

To sum up, therefore — the Catholic world knew that their 
Pope lived under the name of Silvester ; and thirteen persons 
of the entire human race knew that Franklin had been His 
name, and that the throne of Peter rested for the time in 
Nazareth. 

It was, as a Frenchman had said, just a hundred years 
ago. Catholicism survived; but no more. 



THE VICTORY 263 

III 

And as for His inner life, what can be said of that? 

He lay now back in his wooden chair, thinking, with 
closed eyes. 

He could not have described it consistently even to Him- 
self, for indeed He scarcely knew it : He acted rather than 
indulged in reflex thought. But the centre of His posi- 
tion was simple faith. The Catholic Religion, He knew 
well enough, gave the only adequate explanation of the uni- 
verse ; it did not unlock all mysteries, but it unlocked more 
than any other key known to man ; He knew, too, perfectly 
well, that it was the only system of thought that satisfied 
man as a whole, and accounted for him in his essential 
nature. Further, He saw well enough that the failure of 
Christianity to unite all men one to another rested not 
upon its feebleness but its strength ; its lines met in eter- 
nity, not in time. Besides, He happened to believe it. 

But to this foreground there were other moods whose 
shifting was out of his control. In his exalte moods, 
which came upon Him like a breeze from Paradise, the back- 
ground was bright with hope and drama — He saw Himself 
and His companions as Peter and the Apostles must have 
regarded themselves, as they proclaimed through the world, 
in temples, slums, market-places and private houses, the 
faith that was to shake and transform the world. They 
had handled the Lord of Life, seen the empty sepulchre, 
grasped the pierced hands of Him Who was their brother 
and their God. It was radiantly true, though not a man 
believed it ; the huge superincumbent weight of increduHty 
could not disturb a fact that was as the sun in heaven. 



264 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Moreover, the very desperateness of the cause was their 
inspiration. There was no temptation to lean upon the 
arm of flesh, for there was none that fought for them but 
God. Their nakedness was their armour, their slow 
tongues their persuasiveness, their weakness demanded 
God's strength, and found it. Yet there was this differ- 
ence, and it was a significant one. For Peter the spiritual 
world had an interpretation and a guarantee in the outward 
events he had witnessed. He had handled the Risen Christ, 
the external corroborated the internal. But for Silvester 
it was not so. For Plim it was necessary so to grasp spir- 
itual truths in the supernatural sphere that the external 
events of the Incarnation were proved by rather than proved 
the certitude of His spiritual apprehension. Certainly, 
historically speaking, Christianity was true — proved by its 
records — yet to see that needed illumination. He appre- 
hended the power of the Resurrection, therefore Christ was 
risen. 

Therefore in heavier moods it was different with him. 
There were periods, lasting sometimes for days together, 
clouding Him when He awoke, stifling Him as He tried to 
sleep, dulling the very savour of the Sacrament and the 
thrill of the Precious Blood ; times in which the darkness 
was so intolerable that even the solid objects of faith at- 
tenuated themselves to shadow, when half His nature was 
blind not only to Christ, but to God Himself, and the real- 
ity of His own existence — when His own awful dignity 
seemed as the insignia of a fool. And was it conceivable. 
His earthly mind demanded, that He and His college of 
twelve and His few thousands should be right, and the en- 
tire consensus of the civilised world wrong.'* It was not 



THE VICTORY 265 

that the world had not heard the message of the Gospel ; 
it had heard little else for two thousand years, and now 
pronounced it false — false in its external credentials, and 
false therefore in its spiritual claims. It was a lost cause 
for which He suffered; He was not the last of an august 
line. He was the smoking wick of a candle of folly ; He 
was the reductio ad absurdum of a ludicrous syllogism 
based on impossible premises. He was not worth killing, 
He and His company of the insane — they were no more 
than the crowned dunces of the world's school. Sanity sat 
on the solid benches of materialism. And this heaviness 
waxed so dark sometimes that He almost persuaded Himself 
that His faith was gone ; the clamours of mind so loud that 
the whisper of the heart was unheard, the desires for 
earthly peace so fierce that supernatural ambitions were si- 
lenced — so dense was the gloom, that, hoping against hope, 
believing against knowledge, and loving against truth. He 
cried as One other had cried on another day like this — 
Eliy Eli, lama sabachthani! . . . But that, at least. He 
never failed to cry. 

One thing alone gave Him power to go on, so far at least 
as His consciousness was concerned, and that was His 
meditation. He had travelled far in the mystical life since 
His agonies of effort. Now He used no deliberate descents 
into the spiritual world: He threw, as it were. His hands 
over His head, and dropped into spacelessness. Conscious- 
ness would draw Him up, as a cork, to the surface, but He 
would do no more than repeat His action, until by that ces- 
sation of activity, which is the supreme energy. He floated 
in the twilight realm of transcendence ; and there God would 
deal with Him — now by an articulate sentence, now by a 



266 LORD OF THE WORLD 

sword of pain, now by an air like the vivifying breath of 
the sea. Sometimes after Communion He would treat Him 
so, sometimes as He fell asleep, sometimes in the whirl of 
work. Yet His consciousness did not seem to retain for 
long such experiences; five minutes later, it might be, He 
would be wrestling once more with the all but sensible 
phantoms of the mind and the heart. 

There He lay, then, in the chair, revolving the intolerable 
blasphemies that He had read. His white hair was thin 
upon His browned temples. His hands were as the hands 
of a spirit, and His young face lined and patched with 
sorrow. His bare feet protruded from beneath His stained 
tunic, and His old brown burnous lay on the floor beside 
Him. . . . 

It was an hour before He moved, and the sun had already 
lost half its fierceness, when the steps of the horses sounded 
in the paved court outside. Then He sat up, slipped His 
feet into their shoes, and lifted the burnous from the floor, 
as the door opened and the lean sun-burned priest came 
through. 

"The horses, Holiness," said the man. 

The Pope spoke not one word that afternoon, until the 
two came towards sunset up the bridle-path that leads be- 
tween Thabor and Nazareth. They had taken their usual 
round through Cana, mounting a hillock from which the 
long mirror of Gennesareth could be seen, and passing on, 
always bearing to the right, under the shadow of Thabor 
until once more Esdraelon spread itself beneath like a grc}"^- 
green carpet, a vast circle, twenty miles across, sprinkled 
sparsely with groups of huts, white walls and roofs, 



THE VICTORY 267 

with Nain visible on the other side, Carmel heaving its 
long form far off on the right, and Nazareth nestling 
a mile or two away on the plateau on which they had 
halted. 

It was a sight of extraordinary peace, and seemed an ex- 
tract from some old picture-book designed centuries ago. 
Here was no crowd of roofs, no pressure of hot humanity, 
no terrible evidences of civilisation and manufactory and 
strenuous, fruitless effort. A few tired Jews had come 
back to this quiet little land, as old people may return to 
their native place, with no hope of renewing their youth, 
or refinding their ideals, but with a kind of sentimentality 
that prevails so often over more logical motives, and a few 
more barrack-like houses had been added here and there to 
the obscure villages in sight. But it was very much as 
it had been a hundred years ago. 

The plain was half shadowed by Carmel, and half in 
dusty golden light. Overhead the clear Eastern sky was 
flushed with rose, as it had flushed for Abraham, Jacob, 
and the Son of David. There was no little cloud here, as 
a man's hand, over the sea, charged with both promise and 
terror; no sound of chariot-wheels from earth or heaven, 
no vision of heavenly horses such as a young man had seen 
thirty centuries ago in this very sky. Here was the old 
earth and the old heaven, unchanged and unchangeable; 
the patient, returning spring had starred the thin soil with 
flowers of Bethlehem, and those glorious lilies to which 
Solomon's scarlet garments might not be compared. There 
was no whisper from the Throne as when Gabriel had once 
stooped through this very air to hail Her who was blessed 
among women, no breath of promise or hope beyond that 



LORD OF THE WORLD 

which God sends through every movement of His created 
robe of Hfe. 

As the two halted, and the horses looked out with steady, 
inquisitive eyes at the immensity of light and air beneath 
them, a soft hooting cry broke out, and a shepherd passed 
below along the hillside a hundred yards away, trailing his 
long shadow behind him, and to the mellow tinkle of bells 
his flock came after, a troop of obedient sheep and wilful 
goats, cropping and following and cropping again as they 
went on to the fold, called by name in that sad minor voice 
of him who knew each, and led instead of driving. The soft 
clanking grew fainter, the shadow of the shepherd shot 
once to their very feet, as he topped the rise, and vanished 
again as he stepped down once more ; and the call grew 
fainter yet, and ceased. 

The Pope lifted His hand to His eyes for an instant, 
then smoothed it down His face. 

He nodded across to a dim patch of white walls glim- 
mering through the violet haze of the falling twilight. 

"That place, father," He said, "what is its name?" 

The Syrian priest looked across, back once more at the 
Pope, and across again. 

"That among the palms. Holiness.'*" 

"Yes." 

"That is Megiddo," he said. "Some call it Armageddon." 



CHAPTER II 



At twenty-three o'clock that night the Syrian priest went 
out to watch for the coming of the messenger from 
Tiberias. Nearly two hours previously he had heard the 
cry of the Russian volor that plied from Damascus to 
Tiberias, and Tiberias to Jerusalem, and even as it was the 
messenger was a little late. 

These were very primitive arrangements, but Palestine was 
out of the world — a slip of useless country — and it was 
necessary for a man to ride from Tiberias to Nazareth each 
night with papers from Cardinal Corkran to the Pope, 
and to return with correspondence. It was a dangerous 
task, and the members of the New Order who surrounded 
the Cardinal undertook it by turns. In this manner all mat- 
ters for which the Pope's personal attention was required, 
and which were too long and not too urgent, could be dealt 
with at leisure by him, and an answer returned within the 
twenty-four hours. 

It was a brilliant moonlit night. The great golden shield 
was riding high above Thabor, shedding its strange metallic 
light down the long slopes and over the moor-like country 
that rose up from before the house-door — casting too heavy 
black shadows that seemed far more concrete and solid than 
the brilliant pale surfaces of the rock slabs or even than 
the diamond flashes from the quartz and crystal that here 
and there sparkled up the stony pathway. Compared with 



270 LORD OF THE WORLD 

this clear splendour, the yellow light from the shuttered 
house seemed a hot and tawdry thing ; and the priest, lean- 
ing against the door-post, his eyes alone alight in his dark 
face, sank down at last with a kind of Eastern sensuousness 
to bathe himself in the glory, and to spread his lean, brown 
hands out to it. 

This was a very simple man, in faith as well as in Hfe. 
For him there were neither the ecstasies nor the desolations 
of his master. It was an immense and solemn joy to him 
to live here at the spot of God's Incarnation and in at- 
tendance upon His Vicar. As regarded the movements of 
the world, he observed them as a man in a ship watches the 
heaving of the waves far beneath. Of course the world was 
restless, he half perceived, for, as the Latin Doctor had 
said, all hearts were restless until they found their rest in 
God. Quare fremuerunt gentes? . . . Adversus Dominum, 
et adversus Christum ejus! As to the end — he was not 
greatly concerned. It might well be that the ship would be 
overwhelmed, but the moment of the catastrophe would be 
the end of all things earthly. The gates of hell shall not 
prevail : when Rome falls, the world falls ; and when the 
world falls, Christ is manifest in power. For himself, he 
imagined that the end was not far away. When he had 
named Megiddo this afternoon it had been in his mind; to 
him it seemed natural that at the consummation of all 
things Christ's Vicar should dwell at Nazareth where His 
King had come on earth — and that the Armageddon of the 
Divine John should be within sight of the scene where 
Christ had first taken His earthly sceptre and should take 
it again. After all, it would not be the first battle that 
Megiddo had seen. Israel and Amalek had met here ; Israel 



THE VICTORY ^71 

and Assyria ; Sesostris had ridden here and Sennacherib. 
Christian and Turk had contended here, like Michael and 
Satan, over the place where God's Body had lain. As to the 
exact method of that end, he had no clear views ; it would 
be a battle of some kind, and what field could be found 
more evidently designed for that than this huge flat circular 
plain of Esdraelon, twenty miles across, sufficient to hold 
all the armies of the earth in its embrace? To his view 
once more, ignorant as he was of present statistics, the 
world was divided into two large sections. Christians and 
heathens, and he supposed them very much of a size. 
Something would happen, troops would land at Khaifa, 
they would stream southwards from Tiberias, Damascus 
and remote Asia, northwards from Jerusalem, Egypt and 
Africa ; eastwards from Europe ; westwards from Asia 
again and the far-off Americas. And, surely, the time 
could not be far away, for here was Christ's Vicar; and, 
as He Himself had said in His gospel of the Advent, 
Ubicumque fuerit corpus, illic congregabuntur et aquilae. 
Of more subtle interpretations of prophecy he had no 
knowledge. For him words were things, not merely labels 
upon ideas. What Christ and St. Paul and St. John had 
said — these things were so. He had escaped, owing chiefly 
to his isolation from the world, that vast expansion of 
Ritschlian ideas that during the last century had been re- 
sponsible for the desertion by so many of any intelligible 
creed. For others this had been the supreme struggle — 
the difficulty of decision between the facts that words were 
not things, and yet that the things they represented were 
in themselves objective. But to this man, sitting now in 
the moonlight, listening to the far-off^ tap of hoofs over 



^n LORD OP THE WORLD 

the hill as the messenger came up from Cana, faith was 
as simple as an exact science. Here Gabriel had descended 
on wide feathered wings from the Throne of God set be- 
yond the stars, the Holy Ghost had breathed in a beam of 
ineffable light, the Word had become Flesh as Mary folded 
her arms and bowed her head to the decree of the Eternal. 
And here once more, he thought, though it was no more 
than a guess — yet he thought that already the running of 
chariot-wheels was audible — the tumult of the hosts of God 
gathering about the camp of the saints — he thought that 
already beyond the bars of the dark Gabriel set to his lips 
the trumpet of doom and heaven was astir. He might be 
wrong at this time, as others had been wrong at other times, 
but neither he nor they could be wrong for ever ; there must 
some day be an end to the patience of God, even though 
that patience sprang from the eternity of His nature. 

He stood up, as down the pale moonlit path a hundred 
yards away came a pale figure of one who rode, with a 
leather bag strapped to his girdle. 



II 



It would be about three o'clock in the morning that the 
priest awoke in his little mud-walled room next to that of 
the Holy Father's, and heard a footstep coming up the 
stairs. Last evening he had left his master as usual be- 
ginning to open the pile of letters arrived from Cardinal 
Corkran, and himself had gone straight to his bed and 
slept. He lay now a moment or two, still drowsy, listening 



THE VICTORY STS 

to the pad of feet, and an instant later sat up abruptly, 
for a deliberate tap had sounded on the door. Again it 
came; he sprang out of bed in his long night-tunic, drew 
it up hastily in his girdle, went to the door and opened it. 

The Pope was standing there, with a little lamp in one 
hand, for the dawn had scarcely yet begun, and a paper 
in the other. 

"I beg your pardon, Father; but there is a message I 
must have sent at once to his Eminence." 

Together they went out through the Pope's room, the 
priest, still half-blind with sleep, passed up the stairs, and 
emerged into the clear cold air of the upper roof. The 
Pope blew out His lamp, and set it on the parapet. 

"You will be cold. Father; fetch your cloak." 

"And you, Holiness.?" 

The other made a little gesture of denial, and went across 
to the tiny temporarj' shed where the wireless telegraphic 
instrument stood. 

"Fetch your cloak. Father," He said again over His 
shoulder. "I will ring up meanwhile." 

When the priest came back three minutes later, in his 
slippers and cloak, carrying another cloak also for his mas- 
ter, the Pope was still seated at the table. He did not 
even move His head as the other came up, but once more 
pressed on the lever that, communicating with the twelve- 
foot pole that rose through the pent-house overhead, shot 
out the quivering energy through the eighty miles of glim- 
mering air that lay between Nazareth and Damascus. 

This simple priest had scarcely even by now become ac- 
customed to this extraordinary device invented a century 
ago and perfected through all those years to this precise 



^74 LORD OF TKE WORLD 

exactness — that device by which with tlie help of a stick,, 
a bundle of wires, and a box of wheels, something, at last 
established to be at the root of all matter, if not at the 
very root of physical life, spoke across the spaces of the 
world to a tiny receiver tuned by a hair's breadth to the 
vibration with which it was set in relations. 

The air was surprisingly cold, considering the heat that 
had preceded and would follow it, and the priest shivered 
a little as he stood clear of the roof, and stared, now at 
the motionless figure in the chair before him, now at the 
vast vault of the sky passing, even as he looked, from a 
cold colourless luminosity to a tender tint of yellow, as 
far away beyond Thabor and Moab the dawn began to 
deepen. From the village half-a-mile away arose the crow- 
ing of a cock, thin and brazen as a trumpet ; a dog barked 
once and was silent again ; and then, on a sudden, a single 
stroke upon a bell hung in the roof recalled him in an in- 
stant, and told him that his work was to begin. 

The Pope pressed the lever again at the sound, twice, 
and then, after a pause, once more — waited a moment for 
an answer, and then when it came, rose and signed to the 
priest to take his place. 

The Syrian sat dovrn, handing the extra cloak to his mas- 
ter, and waited until the other had settled Himself In a chair 
set in such a position at the side of the table that the face 
of each was visible to the other. Then he waited, with 
his brown fingers poised above the row of keys, looking 
at the other's face as He arranged himself to speak. That 
face, he thought, looking out from the hood, seemed paler 
than ever in this cold light of dawn ; the black arched 
eyebrows accentuated this, and even the steady lips, pre- 



THE VICTORY 275 

paring to speak, seemed white and bloodless. He had His 
paper in His hand, and His eyes were fixed upon this. 

"Make sure it is the Cardinal," he said abruptly. 

The priest tapped off an enquiry, and, with moving lips, 
read off the printed message, as like magic it precipitated 
itself on to the tall white sheet of paper that faced him. 

"It is his Eminence, Holiness," he said softly. "He is 
alone at the instrument." 

"Very well. Now then ; begin." 

"We have received your Eminence's letter, and have noted 
the news. ... It should have been forwarded by telegraphy 
— why was that not done?" 

The voice paused, and the priest who had snapped off 
the message, more quickly than a man could write it, read 
aloud the answer. 

" 'I did not understand that it was urgent. I thought 
it was but one more assault. I had intended to communi- 
cate more so soon as I heard more.' " 

"Of course it was urgent," came the voice again in the 
deliberate intonation that was used between these two in 
the case of messages for transmission. "Remember that 
all news of this kind is always urgent." 

" 'I will remember,' read the priest. " 'I regret my mis- 
take.' " 

"You tell us," went on the Pope, His eyes still downcast 
on the paper, "that this measure is decided upon ; you 
name only three authorities. Give me, now, all the authori- 
ties you have, if you have more." 

There was a moment's pause. Then the priest began to 
read off the names. 

" 'Besides the three Cardinals whose names I sent, the 



276 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Archbishops of Thibet, Cairo, Calcutta and Sydney have 
all asked if the news was true, and for directions if it is 
true; besides others whose names I can communicate if I 
may leave the table for a moment.' " 

"Do so," said the Pope. 

Again there was a pause. Then once more the names 
began. 

" 'The Bishops of Bukarest, the Marquesas Islands and 
Newfoundland. The Franciscans in Japan, the Crutched 
Friars in Morocco, the Archbishops of Manitoba and 
Portland, and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Pekin. I have 
despatched two members of Christ Crucified to England.' " 

"Tell us when the news first arrived, and how." 

" 'I was called up to the instrument yesterday evening 
at about twenty o'clock. The Archbishop of Sydney was 
asking, through our station at Bombay, whether the news 
was true. I replied I had heard nothing of it. Within ten 
minutes four more inquiries had come to the same effect; 
and three minutes later Cardinal Ruspoli sent the positive 
news from Turin. This was accompanied by a similar mes- 
sage from Father Petrovski in INIoscow. Then ' " 

"Stop. Why did not Cardinal Dolgorovski communicate 
it.?" 

" *He did communicate it three hours later.' " 

"Why not at once.?" 

" 'His Eminence had not heard it.' " 

"Find out at what hour the news reached Moscow — not 
now, but within the day." 

" 'I will.' " 

"Go on, then." 

" 'Cardinal Malpas communicated it within five minutes 



THE VICTORY 277 

of Cardinal Ruspoli, and the rest of the inquiries arrived 
before midnight. China reported it at twenty-three.* " 

"Then when do you suppose the news was made public.'"' 

" 'It was decided first at the secret London conference, 
yesterday, at about sixteen o'clock by our time. The 
Plenipotentiaries appear to have signed it at that hour. 
After that it was communicated to the world. It was pub- 
lished here half an hour past midnight.' " 

"Then Felsenburgh was in London?" 

" *I am not yet sure. Cardinal Malpas tells me that 
Felsenburgh gave his provisional consent on the previous 
day.' " 

"Very good. That is all j'ou know, then.'"' 

" 'I was called up an hour ago by Cardinal Ruspoli 
again. He tells me that he fears a riot in Florence ; it will 
be the first of many revolutions, he says.' " 

"Does he ask for anything?" 

" 'Only for directions.' " 

"Tell him that we send him the Apostolic Benediction, 
and will forward directions within the course of two hours. 
Select twelve members of the Order for immediate service." 

" 'I will.' " 

"Communicate that message also, as soon as we have fin- 
ished, to all the Sacred College, and bid them communi- 
cate it with all discretion to all metropolitans and bishops, 
that priests and people may know that We bear them in 
our heart." 

" 'I will, Holiness.' " 

"Tell them, finally, that We had foreseen this long ago ; 
that We commend them to the Eternal Father without 
Whose Providence no sparrow falls to the ground. Bid 



278 LORD OF THE WORLD 

them be quiet and confident ; to do nothing, save confess 
their faith when they are questioned. All other directions 
shall be issued to their pastors immediately !" 
" 'I will, Holiness.' " 

There was again a pause. 

The Pope had been speaking with the utmost tranquillity 
as one in a dream. His eyes were downcast upon the paper, 
His whole body as motionless as an image. Yet to the 
priest who listened, despatching the Latin messages, and 
reading aloud the replies, it seemed, although so little in- 
telligible news had reached him, as if something very 
strange and great was impending. There was the sense of 
a peculiar strain in the air, and although he drew no deduc- 
tions from the fact that apparently the whole Catholic 
world was in frantic communication with Damascus, yet he 
remembered his meditations of the evening before as he 
had waited for the messenger. It seemed as if the powers 
of this world were contemplating one more step — with its 
nature he was not greatly concerned. 

The Pope spoke again in His natural voice. 

"Father," he said, "what I am about to say now is as 
if I told it in confession. You understand.'' — Very well. 
Now begin." 

Then again the intonation began. 

"Eminence. We shall say mass of the Holy Ghost in one 
hour from now. At the end of that time, you will cause 
that all the Sacred College shall be in touch with your- 
self, and waiting for our commands. This new decision 
is unlike any that have preceded it. Surely you understand 
that now. Two or three plans are in our mind, yet We are 



THE VICTORY 279 

not sure yet which it is that our Lord intends. After mass 
We shall communicate to you that which He shall show Us 
to be according to His Will. We beg of you to say mass 
also, immediately, for Our intention. Whatever must be 
done must be done quickly. The matter of Cardinal Dol- 
gorovski you may leave until later. But we wish to hear 
the result of your inquiries, especially in London, before 
mid-day. Benedicat te Omnipotens Deus, Pater et Filius 
et Spiritus Sanctus." 

" ^AmenT " murmured the priest, reading it from the 
sheet. 



ni 



The little chapel In the house below was scarcely more 
dignified than the other rooms. Of ornaments, except 
those absolutely essential to liturgy and devotion, there 
were none. In the plaster of the walls were indented in 
slight relief the fourteen stations of the Cross ; a small 
stone image of the Mother of God stood in a corner, with 
an iron-work candlestick before it, and on the solid un- 
carved stone altar, raised on a stone step, stood six more 
iron candlesticks and an iron crucifix. A tabernacle, also 
of iron, shrouded by linen curtains, stood beneath the 
cross; a small stone slab projecting from the wall served 
as a credence. There was but one window, and this looked 
into the court, so that the eyes of strangers might not 
penetrate. 

It seemed to the Syrian priest as he went about his busi- 
ness — laying out the vestments in the little sacristy that 



280 LORD OF THE WORLD 

opened out at one side of the altar, preparing the cruets 
and stripping the covering from the altar-cloth — that even 
that slight work was wearying. There seemed a certain 
oppression in the air. As to how far that was the result 
of his broken rest he did not know, but he feared that it was 
one more of those scirocco days that threatened. That 
yellowish tinge of dawn had not passed with the sun-rising ; 
even now, as he went noiselessly on his bare feet between 
the predella and the prie-dieu where the silent white figure 
was still motionless, he caught now and again, above 
the roof across the tiny court, a glimpse of that faint 
sand-tinged sky that was the promise of heat and 
heaviness. 

He finished at last, lighted the candles, genuflected, and 
stood with bowed head waiting for the Holy Father to rise 
from His knees. A servant's footstep sounded in the court, 
coming across to hear mass, and simultaneously the Pope 
rose and went towards the sacristy, where the red vestments 
of God who came by fire were laid ready for the Sacrifice. 

Silvester's bearing at mass was singularly unostentatious. 
He moved as swiftly as any young priest. His voice was 
quite even and quite low, and his pace neither rapid nor 
pompous. According to tradition. He occupied half-an- 
hour ab amictu ad amictum; and even in the tiny empty 
chapel He observed to keep His eyes always downcast. And 
yet this Syrian never served His mass without a thrill of 
something resembling fear; it was not only his knowledge 
of the awful dignity of this simple celebrant ; but, al- 
though he could not have expressed it so, there was an 
aroma of an emotion about the vestmented figure that af- 



THE VICTORY 281 

fected him almost physically — an entire absence of self- 
consciousness, and in its place the consciousness of some 
other Presence, a perfection of manner even in the smallest 
details that could only arise from absolute recollection. 
Even in Rome in the old days it had been one of the sights 
of Rome to see Father Franklin say mass ; seminary 
students on the eve of ordination were sent to that sight to 
learn the perfect manner and method. 

To-day all was as usual, but at the Communion the priest 
looked up suddenly at the moment when the Host had been 
consumed, with a half impression that either a sound or a 
gesture had invited it ; and, as he looked, his heart began 
to beat thick and convulsive at the base of his throat. Yet 
to the outward eyes there was nothing unusual. The figure 
stood there with bowed head, the chin resting on the tips of 
the long fingers, the body absolutely upright, and stand- 
ing with that curious light poise as if no weight rested upon 
the feet. But to the inner sense something was apparent; 
the Syrian could not in the least formulate it to himself; 
but afterwards he reflected that he had stared expecting 
some visible or audible manifestation to take place. It was 
an impression that might be described under the terms of 
either light or sound ; at any instant that delicate vivid 
force, that to the eyes of the soul burned beneath the red 
chasuble and the white alb, might have suddenly welled 
outwards under the appearance of a gush of radiant light 
rendering luminous not only the clear brown flesh seen be- 
neath the white hair, but the very texture of the coarse, 
dead, stained stuffs that swathed the rest of the body. Or 
it might have shown itself in the strain of a long chord on 
strings or wind, as if the mystical union of the dedicated 



282 LORD OF THE WORLD 

soul with the ineffable Godhead and Humanity of Jesus 
Christ generated such a sound as ceaselessly flows out with 
the river of life from beneath the Throne of the Lamb. 
Or yet once more it might have declared itself under the 
guise of a perfume — the very essence of distilled sweetness 
— such a scent as that which, streaming out through the 
gross tabernacle of a saint's body, is to those who observe 
it as the breath of heavenly roses. . . . 

The moments passed in that hush of purity and peace ; 
sounds came and went outside, the rattle of a cart far away, 
the sawing of the first cicada in the coarse grass twenty 
yards away beyond the wall; some one behind the priest 
was breathing short and thick as under the pressure of 
an intolerable emotion, and yet the figure stood there still, 
without a movement or sway to break the carved motionless- 
ness of the alb-folds or the perfect poise of the white-shod 
feet. When He moved at last to uncover the Precious 
Blood, to lay His hands on the altar and adore, it was as 
if a statue had stirred into life ; to the server it was very 
nearly as a shock. 

Again, when the chalice was empty, that first impression 
reasserted itself; the human and the external died in the 
embrace of the Divine and Invisible, and once more silence 
lived and glowed. . . . And again as the spiritual energy 
sank back again into its origin, Silvester stretched out 
the chalice. 

With knees that shook and eyes wide in expectation, the 
priest rose, adored, and went to the credence. 

It was customary after the Pope's mass that the priest 
himself should offer the Sacrifice in his presence, but to-day 



THE VICTORY 283 

so soon as the vestments had been laid one by one on the 
rough chest, Silvester turned to the priest. 

"Presently," he said softly. "Go up, father, at once to 
the roof, and tell the Cardinal to be ready. I shall come 
in five minutes." 

It was surely a scirocco-day, thought the priest, as he 
came up on to the flat roof. Overhead, instead of the clear 
blue proper to that hour of the morning, lay a pale yellow 
sky darkening even to brown at the horizon. Thabor, be- 
fore him, hung distant and sombre seen through the im- 
palpable atmosphere of sand, and across the plain, as he 
glanced behind him, beyond the white streak of Nain noth- 
ing was visible except the pale outline of the tops of the 
hills against the sky. Even at this morning hour, too, the 
air was hot and breathless, broken only by the slow-stifling 
lift of the south-western breeze that, blowing across count- 
less miles of sand beyond far-away Egypt, gathered up the 
heat of the huge waterless continent and was pouring it, 
with scarcely a streak of sea to soften its malignity, on this 
poor strip of land. Carmel, too, as he turned again, was 
swathed about its base with mist, half dry and half damp, 
and above showed its long bull-head running out defiantly 
against the western sky. The very table as he touched it 
was dry and hot to the hand, by mid-day the steel would be 
intolerable. 

He pressed the lever, and waited; pressed it again, and 
waited again. There came the answering ring, and he 
tapped across the eighty miles of air that his Eminence's 
presence was required at once. A minute or two passed, 
and then, after another rap of the bell, a line flicked out on 
the new white sheet. 



284 LORD OF THE WORLD 

" *I am here. Is it his Holiness?' " 

He felt a hand upon his shoulder, and turned to see Sil- 
vester, hooded and in white, behind his chair. 

"Tell him yes. Ask him if there is further news." 

The Pope went to the chair once more and sat down, and 
a minute later the priest, with growing excitement, read 
out the answer. 

" 'Inquiries are pouring in. Many expect your Holiness 
to issue a challenge. My secretaries have been occupied 
since four o'clock. The anxiety is indescribable. Some are 
denying that they have a Pope. Something must be done 
at once.' " 

"Is that all.?" asked the Pope. 

Again the priest read out the answer. " 'Yes and no. 
The news is true. It will be inforced immediately. Unless 
a step is taken immediately there will be widespread and 
final apostasy.' " 

"Very good," murmured the Pope, in his official voice. 
"Now listen carefully, Eminence." He was silent for a 
moment, his fingers joined beneath his chin as just now at 
mass. Then he spoke. 

"We are about to place ourselves unreservedly in the 
hands of God. Human prudence must no longer restrain 
us. We command you then, using all discretion that is 
possible, to communicate these wishes of ours to the fol- 
lowing persons under the strictest secrecy, and to no others 
whatsoever. And for this service you are to employ mes- 
sengers, taken from the Order of Christ Crucified, two for 
each message, which is not to be committed to writing in 
any form. The members of the Sacred College, number- 
ing twelve; the metropolitans and Patriarchs through the 



THE VICTORY S85 

entire world, numbering twenty-two ; the Generals of the 
Religious Orders : the Society of Jesus, the Friars, the 
Monks Ordinary, and the Monks Contemplative — four. 
These persons, thirty-eight in number, with the chaplain 
of 3'our Eminence, who shall act as notary, and my own who 
shall assist him, and Ourself — forty-one all told — these per- 
sons are to present themselves here at our palace of Naza- 
reth not later than the Eve of Pentecost. We feel Ourselves 
unwilling to decide the steps necessary to be taken with 
reference to the new decree, except we first hear the coun- 
sel of our advisers, and give them an opportunity of com- 
municating freely one with another. These words, as we 
have spoken them, are to be forwarded to all those persons 
whom we have named; and your Eminence will further in- 
form them that our deliberations will not occupy more than 
four days. 

"As regards the questions of provisioning the council and 
all matters of that kind, your Eminence will despatch to- 
day the chaplain of whom we have spoken, who with my 
own chaplain will at once set about preparations, and your 
Eminence will yourself follow, appointing Father Mara- 
bout to act in your absence, not later than four days hence. 
"Finally, to all who have asked explicit directions in the 
face of this new decree, communicate this one sentence, and 
no more. 

"Lose not your confidence which hath a great reward. 
For yet a little while, and He that is to come will come 
and will not delay. — Silvester the Bishop, Servant of 
the Servants of God." 



CHAPTER III 



Oliver Brand stepped out from the Conference Hall in 
Westminster on the Friday evening, so soon as the busi- 
ness was over and the Plenipotentiaries had risen from the 
table, more concerned as to the effect of the news upon his 
wife than upon the world. 

He traced the beginning of the change to the day five 
months ago when the President of the World had first de- 
clared the development of his policy, and while Oliver him- 
self had yielded to that development, and from defending it 
in public had gradually convinced himself of its necessity, 
Mabel, for the first time in her life, had shown herself abso- 
lutely obstinate. 

The woman to his mind seemed to him to have fallen into 
some kind of insanity. Felsenburgh's declaration had been 
made a week or two after his Acclamation at Westminster, 
and IVIabel had received the news of it at first with abso- 
lute incredulity. 

Then, when there was no longer any doubt that he had 
declared the extermination of the Supernaturalists to be a 
possible necessity, there had been a terrible scene between 
husband and wife. She had said that she had been de- 
ceived; that the world's hope was a monstrous mockery; 
that the reign of universal peace was as far away as ever ; 
that Felsenburgh had betrayed his trust and broken his 
word. There had been an appalling scene. He did not 



THE VICTORY 287 

even now like to recall it to his imagination. She had 
quieted after a while, but his arguments, delivered with in- 
finite patience, seemed to produce very little effect. She 
settled down into silence, hardly answering him. One 
thing only seemed to touch her, and that was when he spoke 
of the President himself. It was becoming plain to him 
that she was but a woman after all at the mercy of a strong 
personality, but utterly be3'ond the reach of logic. He was 
very much disappointed. Yet he trusted to time to cure 
her. 

The Government of England had taken swift and skilful 
steps to reassure those who, like Mabel, recoiled from the 
inevitable logic of the new policy. An army of speakers 
traversed the country-, defending and explaining ; the press 
was engineered with extraordinary adroitness, and it was 
possible to say that there was not a person among the mil- 
lions of England who had not easy access to the Govern- 
ment's defence. 

Briefly, shorn of rhetoric, their arguments were as follows, 
and there was no doubt that, on the whole, they had the 
effect of quieting the amazed revolt of the more senti- 
mental minds. 

Peace, it was pointed out, had for the first time in the 
world's history become an universal fact. There was no 
longer one State, however small, whose interests were not 
identical with those of one of the three divisions of the 
world of which it was a dependency, and that first stage 
had been accomplished nearly half-a-century ago. But the 
second stage — the reunion of these three divisions under a 
common head — an infinitely greater achievement than the 
former, since the conflicting interests were incalculably 



288 LORD OF THE WORLD 

more vast — this had been consummated by a single Person, 
Who, it appeared, had emerged from humanity at the very 
instant when such a Character was demanded. It was 
surely not much to ask that those on whom these benefits 
had come should assent to the will and judgment of Him 
through whom they had come. This, then, was an appeal 
to faith. 

The second main argument was addressed to reason. 
Persecution, as all enlightened persons confessed, was the 
method of a majority of savages who desired to force a 
set of opinions upon a minority who did not spontaneously 
share them. Now the peculiar malevolence of persecution 
in the past lay, not in the employment of force, but in the 
abuse of it. That any one kingdom should dictate religious 
opinions to a minority of its members was an intolerable 
tyranny, for no one State possessed the right to lay down 
universal laws, the contrary to which might be held by its 
neighbour. This, however, disguised, was nothing else 
than the Lidividualism of Nations, a heresy even more dis- 
astrous to the commonwealth of the world than the Indi- 
vidualism of the Individual. But with the arrival of the 
universal community of interests the whole situation was 
changed. The single personality of the human race had 
succeeded to the incoherence of divided units, and with that 
consummation — which might be compared to a coming of 
age, an entirely new set of rights had come into being. 
The human race was now a single entity with a supreme 
responsibility towards itself; there were no longer any 
private rights at all, such as had certainly existed, in the 
period previous to this. Man now possessed dominion over 
every cell which composed His Mystical Body, and where 



THE VICTORY 289 

any such cell asserted itself to the detriment of the Body, 
the rights of the whole were unqualified. 

And there was no religion but one that claimed the equal 
rights of universal jurisdiction — and that the Catholic. 
The sects of the East, while each retained characteristics 
of its own, had yet found in the New Man the incarnation 
of their ideals, and had therefore given in their allegiance 
to the authority of the whole Body of whom He was Head. 
But the very essence of the Catholic Religion was treason 
to the very idea of man. Christians directed their homage 
to a supposed supernatural Being who was not only — so 
they claimed — outside of the world but positively tran- 
scended it. Christians, then — leaving aside the mad fable 
of the Incarnation, which might very well be suffered to die 
of its own folly — deliberately severed themselves from that 
Body of which by human generation they had been made 
members. They were as mortified limbs yielding themselves 
to the domination of an outside force other than that which 
was their only life, and by that very act imperilled the en- 
tire Body. This madness, then, was the one crime which 
still deserved the name. Murder, theft, rape, even anarchy 
itself, were as trifling faults compared to this monstrous 
sin, for while these injured indeed the Body they did not 
strike at its heart — individuals suffered, and therefore those 
minor criminals deserved restraint ; but the very Life was 
not struck at. But in Christianity there was a poison actu- 
ally deadly. Every cell that became infected with it was 
infected in that very fibre that bound it to the spring of 
life. This, and this alone, was the supreme crime of High 
Treason against man — and nothing but complete removal 
from the world could be an adequate remedy. 



290 LORD OF THE WORLD 

These, then, were the main arguments addressed to that 
section of the world which still recoiled from the deliberate 
utterance of Felsenburgh, and their success had been re- 
markable. Of course, the logic, in itself indisputable, had 
been dressed in a variety of costumes gilded with rhetoric, 
flushed with passion, and it had done its work in such a 
manner that as summer drew on Felsenburgh had an- 
nounced privately that he proposed to introduce a bill 
which should carry out to its logical conclusion the policy 
of which he had spoken. 

Now, this too, had been accomplished. ^ 



II 



Oliver let himself into his house, and went straight up- 
stairs to Mabel's room. It would not do to let her hear 
the news from any but his own lips. She was not there, and 
on inquiry he heard that she had gone out an hour before. 

He was disconcerted at this. The decree had been signed 
half-an-hour earlier, and in answer to an inquiry from Lord 
Pemberton it had been stated that there was no longer any 
reason for secrecy, and that the decision might be com- 
municated to the press. Oliver had hurried away immedi- 
ately in order to make sure that Mabel should hear the 
news from him, and now she was out, and at any moment 
the placards might tell her of what had been done. 

He felt extremely uneasy, but for another hour or so was 
ashamed to act. Then he went to the tube and asked an- 
other question or two, but the servant had no idea of 
Mabel's movements ; it might be she had gone to the 



THE VICTORY 291 

church ; sometimes she did at this hour. He sent the woman 
off to see, and himself sat down again in the window-seat 
of his wife's room, staring out disconsolately at the wide 
array of roofs in the golden sunset light, that seemed to 
his eyes to be strangely beautiful this evening. The sky 
was not that pure gold which it had been every night dur- 
ing this last week ; there was a touch of rose in it, and this 
extended across the entire vault so far as he could see from 
west to east. He reflected on what he had lately read in 
an old book to the effect that the abolition of smoke had 
certainly changed evening colours for the worse. . . . 
There had been a couple of severe earthquakes, too, 
in America — he wondered whether there was any connec- 
tion. . . . Then his thoughts flew back to Mabel. . . . 

It was about ten minutes before he heard her footstep on 
the stairs, and as he stood up she came in. 

There was something in her face that told him that she 
knew everything, and his heart sickened at her pale rigid- 
ity. There was no fury there — nothing but white, hopeless 
despair, and an immense determination. Her lips showed a 
straight line, and her ejes, beneath her white summer hat, 
seemed contracted to pinpricks. She stood there, closing 
the door mechanically behind her, and made no further 
movement towards him. 

"Is it true?" she said. 

Oliver drew one steady breath, and sat down again. 

"Is what true, my dear?" 

"Is it true," she said again, "that all are to be questioned 
as to whether they believe in God, and to be killed if they 
confess it?" 

Oliver licked his dry lips. 



292 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"You put it very harshly," he said. "The question is, 
whether the world has a right " 

She made a sharp movement with her head. 

"It is true then. And you signed it.?" 

"My dear, I beg you not to make a scene. I am tired out. 
And I will not answer that until you have heard what I 
have to say." 

"Say it, then." 

"Sit down, then." 

She shook her head. 

"Very well, then. . . . Well, this is the point. The world 
is one now, not many. Individualism is dead. It died when 
Felsenburgh became President of the World. You surely 
see that absolutely new conditions prevail now — there has 
never been anything like it before. You know all this as 
well as I do." 

Again came that jerk of impatience. 

"You will please to hear me out," he said wearily. "Well, 
now that this has happened, there is a new morality ; it is 
exactly like a child coming to the age of reason. We are 
obliged, therefore, to see that this continues — that there is 
no going back — no mortification — that all the limbs are 
in good health. 'If thy hand offend thee, cut it off,' said 
Jesus Christ. Well, that is what we say. . . . Now, for any 
one to say that they believe in God — I doubt very much 
whether there is any one who really does believe, or under- 
stand what it means — but for any one even to say so is the 
very worst crime conceivable : it is high treason. But there 
is going to be no violence ; it will all be quite quiet and 
merciful. Why, you have always approved of Euthanasia, 
as we all do. Well, it is that that will be used ; and " 



THE VICTORY 293 

Once more she made a little movement with her hand. The 
rest of her was like an image. 

"Is this any use.'"' she asked. 

Oliver stood up. He could not bear the hardness of her 
voice. 

"Mabel, my darling " 

For an instant her lips shook; then again she looked at 
him with eyes of ice. 

"I don't want that," she said. "It is of no use. . . . 
Then you did sign it.'"' 

Oliver had a sense of miserable desperation as he looked 
back at her. He would infinitely have preferred that she 
had stormed and wept. 

"Mabel " he cried again. ' 

"Then you did sign it.'"' ... 

"I did sign it," he said at last. 

She turned and went towards the door. He sprang after 
her. 

"Mabel, where are you going?" 

Then, for the first time in her life, she lied to her husband 
frankly and fully. 

"I am going to rest a little," she said. "I shall see you 
presently at supper." 

He still hesitated, but she met his eyes, pale indeed, but 
so honest that he fell back. 

"Very well, my dear. . . . Mabel, try to under- 
stand." 

He came down to supper half-an-hour later, primed with 
logic, and even kindled with emotion. The argument 
seemed to him now so utterly convincing ; granted the 



LORD OF THE WORLD 

premises that they both accepted and lived by, the con- 
clusion was simpl}^ inevitable. 

Pie waited a minute or two, and at last went to the tube 
that communicated with the servants' quarters. 

"Where is Mrs. Brand.'"' he asked. 

There was an instant's silence, and then the answer came: 

"She left the house half-an-hour ago, sir. I thought you 
knew." 



Ill 



That same evening Mr. Francis was very busy in his office 
over the details connected with the festival of Sustenance 
that was to be celebrated on the first of July. It was the 
first time that the particular ceremony had taken place, and 
he was anxious that it should be as successful as its prede- 
cessors. There were a few differences between this and the 
others, and it was necessary that the ceremoniarli should be 
fully instructed. 

So, with his model before him — a miniature replica of the 
interior of the Abbey, with tiny dummy figures on blocks 
that could be shifted this way and that, he was engaged 
in adding in a minute ecclesiastical hand rubrical notes to 
his copy of the Order of Proceedings. 

When the porter therefore rang up a little after twenty- 
one o'clock, that a lady wished to see him, he answered 
rather brusquely down the tube that it was impossible. But 
the bell rang again, and to his impatient question, the reply 
came up that it was Mrs. Brand below, and that she did 
'lot ask for more than ten minutes' conversation. This was 



THE VICTORY 295 

quite another matter. Oliver Brand was an important per- 
sonage, and his wife therefore had significance, and 
Mr. Francis apologised, gave directions that she was to 
come to his ante-room, and rose, sighing, from his dummy 
Abbey and officials. 

She seemed very quiet this evening, he thought, as he 
shook hands with her a minute later; she wore her veil 
down, so that he could not see her face very well, but her 
voice seemed to lack its usual vivacity. 

"I am so sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Francis," she said. 
"I only want to ask you one or two questions." 

He smiled at her encouragingly. 

"Mr. Brand, no doubt " 

"No," she said, "Mr. Brand has not sent me. It is en- 
tirely my own affair. You will see my reasons presently. 
I will begin at once. I know I must not keep you." 

It all seemed rather odd, he thought, but no doubt he 
would understand soon. 

"First," she said, "I think you used to know Father 
Franklin. He became a Cardinal, didn't he.''" 

Mr. Francis assented, smiling. 

"Do you know if he is alive?" 

"No," he said. "He is dead. He was in Rome, you know, 
at the time of its destruction." 

"Ah! You are sure?" 

"Quite sure. Only one Cardinal escaped — Steinmann. 
He was hanged in Berlin ; and the Patriarch of Jerusalem 
died a week or two later." 

*'Ah ! very well. Well, now, here is a very odd question. 
I ask for a particular reason, which I cannot explain, but 



296 LORD OF THE WORLD 

you will soon understand. . . . It is this — Why do Catho- 
lics believe in God?" 

He was so much taken aback that for a moment he sat 
staring. 

"Yes," she said tranquilly, "it is a very odd question. 
But—" she hesitated. "Well, I will tell you," she said. 
"The fact is, that I have a friend who is — is in danger 
from this new law. I want to be able to argue with her; 
and I must know her side. You are the only priest — I mean 
who has been a priest — whom I ever knew, except Father 
Franklin. So I thought you would not mind telling me." 

Her voice was entirely natural ; there was not a tremor 
or a falter in it. Mr. Francis smiled genially, rubbing his 
hands softly together. 

"Ah!" he said. "Yes, I see. . . . Well, that is a very 
large question. Would not to-morrow, perhaps .''" 

"I only want just the shortest answer," she said. "It 
is really important for me to know at once. You see, this 
new law comes into force " 

He nodded. 

"Well — very briefly, I should say this : Catholics say that 
God can be perceived by reason ; that from the arrange- 
ments of the world they can deduce that there must have 
been an Arranger — a Mind, you understand. Then they 
say that they deduce other things about God — that He is 
Love, for example, because of happiness " 

"And the pain?" she interrupted. 

He smiled again. 

"Yes. That is the point — that is the weak point." 

"But what do they say about that?" 

"Well, briefly, they say that pain is the result of sin " 



THE VICTORY 297 

"And sin? You see, I know nothing at all, Mr. Francis." 

"Well, sin is the rebellion of man's will against God's." 

"What do they mean by that?" 

"Well, you see, they say that God wanted to be loved by 
His creatures, so He made them free ; otherwise they could 
not really love. But if they were free, it means that they 
could if they liked refuse to love and obey God ; and that 
is what is called Sin. You see what nonsense " 

She jerked her head a little. 

"Yes, yes," she said. "But I really want to get at what 
they think. . . . Well, then, that is all?" 

Mr. Francis pursed his lips. 

"Scarcely," he said ; "that is hardly more than what they 
call Natural Religion. Catholics believe much more than 
that." 

"Well?" 

"My dear Mrs. Brand, it is impossible to put it in a few 
words. But, in brief, they believe that God became man — 
that Jesus was God, and that He did this in order to save 
them from sin by dying " 

"By bearing pain, you mean?" 

"Yes ; by dying. Well, what they call the Incarnation 
is really the point. Everything else flows from that. And, 
once a man believes that, I must confess that all the rest 
follows — even down to scapulars and holy water." 

"Mr. Francis, I don't understand a word you're saying." 

He smiled indulgently. 

"Of course not," he said; "it is all incredible nonsense. 
But, you know, I did really believe it all once." 

"But it's unreasonable," she said. 

He made a little demurring sound. 



298 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Yes," he said, "in one sense, of course it is — utterly un- 
reasonable. But in another sense " 

She leaned forward suddcnl}^ and he could catch the glint 
of her eyes beneath her white veil. 

"Ah !" she said, almost breathlessly. "That is what I 
want to hear. Now, tell me how they justify it." 

He paused an instant, considering. 

"Well," he said slowly, "as far as I remember, the}' say 
that there are other faculties besides those of reason. They 
say, for example, that the heart sometimes finds out things 
that the reason cannot — intuitions, you see. For instance, 
they say that all things such as self-sacrifice and chivalry 
and even art — all come from the heart, that Reason comes 
with them — in rules of technique, for instance — but that it 
cannot prove them ; they are quite apart from that." 

"I think I see." 

"Well, they say that Religion is like that — in other words, 
they practically confess that it is merely a matter of emo- 
tion." He paused again, trying to be fair. "Well, per- 
haps they would not say that — although it is true. But 
briefly " 

"Well?" 

"Well, they say there is a thing called Faith — a kind of 
deep conviction unlike anything else — supernatural — which 
God is supposed to give to people who desire it — to people 
who pray for it, and lead good lives, and so on " 

"And this Faith.?" 

"Well, this Faith, acting upon what they call Evidences — 
this Faith makes them absolutely certain that there is a 
God, that He was made man and so on, with the Church 
and all the rest of it. They say too that this is further 



THE VICTORY 299 

proved by the effect that their religion has had in the world, 
and by the way it explains man's nature to himself. You 
see, it is just a case of self-suggestion." 

He heard her sigh, and stopped. 

"Is that any clearer, Mrs. Brand.?" 

"Thank you very much," she said, "it certainly is clearer. 

. . . And it is true that Christians have died for this Faith, 
whatever it is .f*" 

"Oh ! yes. Thousands and thousands. Just as Moham- 
medans have for theirs." 

"The Mohammedans believe in God, too, don't they?" 

"Well, they did, and I suppose that a few do now. But 
very few : the rest have become esoteric, as they say." 

"And — and which would you say were the most highly 
evolved people — East or West.?" 

"Oh ! West undoubtedly. The East thinks a good deal, 
but it doesn't act much. And that always leads to con- 
fusion — even to stagnation of thought." 

"And Christianity certainly has been the Religion of the 
West up to a hundred years ago.?" 

"Oh! yes." 

She was silent then, and ]\Ir. Francis had time again to 
reflect how very odd all this was. She certainly must be 
very much attached to this Christian friend of hers. 

Then she stood up, and he rose with her. 

"Thank you so much, Mr. Francis. . . . Then that is the 
kind of outline.?" 

"Well, yes ; so far as one can put it in a few words." 

"Thank you. ... I mustn't keep you." 

He went with her towards the door. But within a yard 
of it she stopped. 



300 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"And you, Mr. Francis. You were brought up in all 
this. Does it ever come back to you?" 

He smiled. 

"Never," he said, "except as a dream." 

"How do you account for that, then? If it is all self- 
suggestion, you have had thirty years of it." 

She paused; and for a moment he hesitated what to an- 
swer. 

"How would your old fellow-Catholics account for it?" 

"They would say that I had forfeited hght — that Faith 
was withdrawn." 

"And you?" 

Again he paused. 

"I should say that I had made a stronger self-suggestion 
the other way." 

"I see. . . . Good-night, Mr. Francis." 

She would not let him come down the lift with her, so when 
he had seen the smooth box drop noiselessly below the level, 
he went back again to his model of the Abbey and the little 
dummy figures. But, before he began to move these about 
again, he sat for a moment or two with pursed lips, staring. 



CHAPTER IV 



A WEEK later Mabel awoke about dawn ; and for a moment 
or two forgot where she was. She even spoke Oliver's name 
aloud, staring round the unfamiliar room, wondering what 
she did here. Then she remembered, and was silent. . . . 

It was the eighth day she had spent in this Home; her 
probation was finished: to-day she was at liberty to do 
that for which she had come. On the Saturday of the 
previous week she had gone through her private examina- 
tion before the magistrate, stating under the usual condi- 
tions of secrecy her name, age and home, as well as her 
reasons for making the application for Euthanasia ; and all 
had passed off well. She had selected Manchester as being 
sufficiently remote and sufficiently large to secure her free- 
dom from Oliver's molestation ; and her secret had been ad- 
mirably kept. There was not a hint that her husband knew 
anything of her intentions ; for, after all, in these cases the 
police were bound to assist the fugitive. Individualism 
was at least so far recognised as to secure to those weary of 
life the right of relinquishing it. She scarcely knew why 
she had selected this method, except that any other seemed 
impossible. The knife required skill and resolution ; fire- 
arms were unthinkable, and poison, under the new stringent 
regulations, was hard to obtain. Besides, she seriously 
wished to test her own intentions, and to be quite sure that 
there was no other way than this. . . . 



302 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Well, she was as certain as ever. Thethoughthad first come 
to her in the mad misery of the outbreak of violence on the 
last day of the old year. Then it had gone again, soothed 
away by the arguments that man was still liable to relapse. 

Then once more it had recurred, a cold and convincing 
phantom, in the plain daylight revealed by Felsenburgh's 
Declaration. It had taken up its abode with her then, 
yet she controlled it, hoping against hope that the Declara- 
tion would not be carried into action, occasionally revolting 
against its horror. Yet it had never been far away ; and 
finally when the policy sprouted into deliberate law, she 
had yielded herself resolutely to its suggestion. That was 
eight days ago ; and she had not had one moment of falter- 
ing since that. 

Yet she had ceased to condemn. The logic had silenced 
her. All that she kneAv was that she could not bear it ; that 
she had misconceived the New Faith; that for her, what- 
ever it was for others, there was no hope. . . . She had 
not even a child of her own. 

Those eight days, required b}'^ law, had passed very peace- 
fully. She had taken with her enough money to enter one of 
the private homes furnished with suflficient comfort to save 
from distractions those who had been accustomed to gentle 
living: the nurses had been pleasant and sympathetic; she 
had nothing to complain of. 

She had suffered, of course, to some degree from reactions. 
The second night after her arrival had been terrible, when, 
as she lay in bed in the hot darkness, her whole sentient life 
had protested and struggled against the fate her will or- 
dained. It had demanded the familiar things — the 



THE VICTORY 303 

promise of food and breath and human intercourse ; it had 
writhed in horror against the bHnd dark towards which it 
moved so inevitably ; and, in the agony had been pacified 
only by the half-hinted promise of some deeper voice sug- 
gesting that death was not the end. With morning light 
sanity had come back ; the will had reassumed the mastery, 
and, with it, had withdrawn explicitly the implied hope of 
continued existence. She had suffered again for an hour or 
two from a more concrete fear; the memory came back to 
her of those shocking revelations that ten years ago had 
convulsed England and brought about the establishment of 
these Homes under Government supervision — those evi- 
dences that for years in the great vivisection-laboratories 
human subjects had been practised upon — persons who 
with the same intentions as herself had cut themselves off 
from the world in private euthanasia-houses, to whom had 
been supplied a gas that suspended instead of destroying 
animation. . . . But this, too, had passed with the return 
of light. Such things were impossible now under the new 
system — at least, in England. She had refrained from 
making an end upon the Continent for this very reason. 
There, where sentiment was weaker, and logic more imperi- 
ous, materialism was more consistent. Since men were but 
animals — the conclusion was inevitable. 

There had been but one physical drawback, the intolerable 
heat of the days and nights. It seemed, scientists said, 
that an entirely unexpected heat-wave had been generated ; 
there were a dozen theories, most of which were mutually 
exclusive one of another. It was humiliating, she thought, 
that men who professed to have taken the earth under 
their charge should be so completely baffled. The condi- 



304 LORD OF THE WORLD 

tions of the weather had of course been accompanied by 
disasters ; there had been earthquakes of astonishing vio- 
lence, a ripple had wrecked not less than twenty-five towns 
in America ; an island or two had disappeared, and that be- 
wildering Vesuvius seemed to be working up for a denoue- 
ment. But no one knew really the explanation. One man 
had been wild enough to say that some cataclysm had taken 
place in the centre of the earth. ... So she had heard 
from her nurse ; but she was not greatly interested. It was 
only tiresome that she could not walk much in the gar- 
den, and had to be content with sitting in her own cool 
shaded room on the second floor. 

There was only one other matter of which she had asked, 
namely, the effect of the new decree ; but the nurse did 
not seem to know much about that. It appeared that there 
had been an outrage or two, but the law had not yet been 
enforced to any great extent ; a week, after all, was a short 
time, even though the decree had taken effect at once, and 
magistrates were beginning the prescribed census. 

It seemed to her as she lay awake this morning, staring 
at the tinted ceiling, and out now and again at the quiet 
little room, that the heat was worse than ever. For a min- 
ute she thought she must have overslept ; but, as she touched 
her repeater, it told her that it was scarcely after four 
o'clock. Well, well ; she would not have to bear it much 
longer; she thought that about eight it would be time to 
make an end. There was her letter to Oliver yet to be writ- 
ten ; and one or two final arrangements to be made. 

As regarded the morality of what she was doing — the rela- 
tion, that is to say, which her act bore to the common life 



THE VICTORY 305 

of man — she had no shadow of doubt. It was her belief, 
as of the whole Humanitarian world, that just as bodily 
pain occasionally justified this termination of life, so also 
did mental pain. There was a certain pitch of distress at 
which the individual was no longer necessary to himself or 
the world ; it was the most charitable act that could be per- 
formed. But she had never thought in old days that that 
state could ever be hers ; Life had been much too interesting. 
But it had come to this : there was no question of it. 

Perhaps a dozen times in that week she had thought over 
her conversation with Mr. Francis. Her going to him 
had been little more than instinctive; she did just wish to 
hear what the other side was — whether Christianity was as 
ludicrous as she had always thought. It seemed that it was 
not ludicrous ; it was only terribly pathetic. It was just a 
lovely dream — an exquisite piece of poetry. It would be 
heavenly to believe it, but she did not. No — a transcendent 
God was unthinkable, although not quite so unthinkable 
as a merely immeasurable Man. And as for the Incarna- 
tion — well, well! 

There seemed no way out of it. The Humanity-Religion 
was the only one. Man was God, or at least His highest 
manifestation ; and He was a God with which she did not 
wish to have anything more to do. These faint new instincts 
after something other than intellect and emotion were, she 
knew perfectly well, nothing but refined emotion itself. 

She had thought a great deal of Felsenburgh, however, 
and was astonished at her own feelings. He was certainly 
the most impressive man she had ever seen ; it did seem very 
probable indeed that He was what He claimed to be — ^the 



306 LORD OP THE WORLD 

Incarnation of the ideal Man the first perfect product of 
humanity. But the logic of his position was too much for 
her. She saw now that He was perfectly logical — that He 
had not been inconsistent in denouncing the destruction of 
Rome and a week later making His declaration. It was the 
passion of one man against another that He denounced — of 
kingdom against kingdom, and sect against sect — for this 
was suicidal for the race. He denounced passion, too, not 
judicial action. Therefore, this new decree was as logical 
as Himself — it was a judicial act on the part of an united 
world against a tiny majority that threatened the prin- 
ciple of life and faith : and it was to be carried out with 
supreme mercy ; there was no revenge or passion or partisan 
spirit in it from beginning to end ; no more than a man is 
revengeful or passionate when he amputates a diseased 
limb — Oliver had convinced her of that. 

Yes, it was logical and sound. And it was because it was 
so that she could not bear it. . . . But ah ! what a sublime 
man Felsenburgh was; it was a joy to her even to recall 
his speeches and his personality. She would have liked to 
see him again. But it was no good. She had better be 
done with it as tranquilly as possible. And the world must 
go forward without her. She was just tired out with Facts. 

She dozed off again presently, and it seemed scarcely five 
minutes before she looked up to see a gentle smiling face 
of a white-capped nurse bending over her. 

"It is nearly six o'clock, my dear — the time you told me. 
I came to see about breakfast." 

Mabel drew a long breath. Then she sat up suddenly, 
throwing back the sheet. 



THE VICTORY 307 

II 

It struck a quarter-past six from the little clock on the 
mantel-shelf as she laid down her pen. Then she took up 
the closely written sheets, leaned back in her deep chair, 
and began to read. 

"Home of Rest, 

"No 3a Manchester West. 

"My Dear : I am very sorry, but it has come back to me. 
I really cannot go on any longer, so I am going to escape 
in the only way left, as I once told you. I have had a very 
quiet and happy time here ; they have been most kind and 
considerate. You see, of course, from the heading on this 
paper, what I mean. . . . 

"Well, you have always been very dear to me ; you are 
still, even at this moment. So you have a right to know my 
reasons so far as I know them myself. It is very difficult 
to understand myself; but it seems to me that I am not 
strong enough to live. So long as I was pleased and ex- 
cited it was all very well^ — especially when He came. But 
I think I had expected it to be different ; I did not under- 
stand as I do now how it must come to this — how it is all 
quite logical and right. I could bear it, when I thought 
that they had acted through passion, but this is deliberate. 
I did not realise that Peace must have its laws, and must 
protect itself. And, somehow, that Peace is not what I 
want. It is being alive at all that is wrong. 

"Then there is this difficulty. I know how absolutely in 
agreement you are Avith this new state of affairs; of course 
you are, because you are so much stronger and more logical 
than I am. But if 3'ou have a wife she must be of one mind 
with you. And I am not, any more, at least not with my 
heart, though I see vou are right. ... Do you understand, 
my dear? 



308 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"If we had had a child, it might have been different. I 
might have hked to go on hving for his sake. But Hu- 
manity, somehow — Oh! OHver! I can't — I can't. 

"I know I am wrong, and that you are right — but there 
it is ; I cannot change myself. So I am quite sure that 
I must go. 

"Then I want to tell you this — that I am not at all fright- 
ened. I never can understand why people are — unless, of 
course, they are Christians. I should be horribly fright- 
ened if I was one of them. But, you see, we both know 
that there is nothing beyond. It is life that I am fright- 
ened of — not death. Of course, I should be frightened if 
there was any pain ; but, the doctors tell me there is abso- 
lutely none. It is simply going to sleep. The nerves are 
dead before the brain. I am going to do it myself. I don't 
want any one else in the room. In a few minutes the nurse 
here — Sister Anne, with whom I have made great friends — 
will bring in the thing, and then she will leave me. 

"As regards what happens afterwards, I do not mind at 
all. Please do exactly what you wish. The cremation will 
take place to-morrow morning at noon, so that you can 
be here if you like. Or you can send directions, and they 
will send on the urn to you. I know you liked to have your 
mother's urn in the garden ; so perhaps you will like mine. 
Please do exactly what you like. And with all my things 
too. Of course I leave them to you. 

"Now, my dear, I want to say this — that I am very sorry 
indeed now that I was so tiresome and stupid. I think I 
did really believe your arguments all along. But I did 
not want to believe them. Do you see now why I was so 
tiresome.'' . . . 

"Oliver, my darling, you have been extraordinarily good 
to me. . . . Yes, I know I am crying, but I am really very 
happy. This is such a lovely ending. I wish I hadn't been 
obliged to make you so anxious during this last week: but 
I had to — I knew you would persuade me against it, if 
you found me, and that would have been worse than ever. 



THE VICTORY 309 

I am sorry I told you that lie, too. Indeed, it is the first 
I ever did tell you. 

"Well, I don't think there is much more to say. Oliver, 
my dear, good-bye. I send you my love with all my heart. 

"Mabel." 

She sat still when she had read it through, and her eyes 
were still wet with tears. Yet it was all perfectly true. 
She was far happier than she could be if she had still the 
prospect of going back. Life seemed entirely blank: death 
was so obvious an escape ; her soul ached for it, as a body 
for sleep. 

She directed the envelope, still with a perfectly steady 
hand, laid it on the table, and leaned back once more, 
glancing again at her untasted breakfast. 

Then she suddenly began to think of her conversation 
with Mr. Francis ; and, by a strange association of ideas, 
remembered the fall of the volor in Brighton, the busy- 
ness of the priest, and the Euthanasia boxes. . . . 
* * * in * 

When Sister Anne came in a few minutes later, she was 
astonished at what she saw. The girl crouched at the win- 
dow, her hands on the sill, staring out at the sky in an 
attitude of unmistakable horror. 

Sister Anne came across the room quickly, setting down 
something on the table as she passed. She touched the girl 
on the shoulder. 

"My dear, what is it.?" 

There was a long sobbing breath, and Mabel turned, ris- 
ing as she turned, and clutched the nurse with one shaking 
hand, pointing out with the other. 

"There !" she said. "There— look !" 



310 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Well, my dear, what is it? I see nothing. It is a little 
dark!" 

"Dark!" said the other. "You call that dark! Why, 
why, it is black — black!" 

The nurse drew her softly backwards to the chair, turn- 
ing her from the window. She recognised nervous fear; 
but no more than that. But Mabel tore herself free, and 
wheeled again. 

"You call that a little dark," she said. "Why, look, sister, 
look!" 

Yet there was nothing remarkable to be seen. In front 
rose up the feathery hand of an elm, then the shuttered win- 
dows across the court, the roof, and above that the morn- 
ing sky, a little heavy and dusky as before a storm ; but 
no more than that. 

"Well, what is it, my dear? What do you seel'" 

"Why, why . . . look ! look !— There, listen to that." 

A faint far-away rumble sounded as the rolling of a wag- 
gon — so faint that it might almost be an aural delusion. 
But the girl's hands were at her ears, and her face was one 
white wide-eyed mask of terror. The nurse threw her 
arms round her. 

"My dear," she said, "you are not yourself. That is 
nothing but a little heat-thunder. Sit down quietly." 

She could feel the girl's body shaking beneath her hands, 
but there was no resistance as she drew her to the chair. 

"The Hghts !" the lights !" sobbed Mabel. 

"Will you promise me to sit quietly, then?" 

She nodded ; and the nurse Avent across to the door, smil- 
ing tenderly ; she had seen such things before. A moment 
later the room was full of exquisite sunlight, as she 



THE VICTORY 311 

switched the handle. As she turned, she saw that Mabel 
had wheeled herself round in the chair, and with clasped 
hands was still staring out at the sky above the roofs ; 
but she was plainly quieter again now. The nurse came 
back, and put her hand on her shoulder. 

"You are overwrought, my dear. . . . Now you must be- 
lieve me. There is nothing to be frightened of. It is 
just nervous excitement. . . . Shall I pull down the 
blind?" 

INIabel turned her face. . . . Yes, certainly the light had 
reassured her. Her face was still white and bewildered, 
but the steady look was coming back to her eyes, though, 
even as she spoke, they wandered back more than once to 
the window. 

"Nurse," she said more quietly, "please look again and 
tell me if you see nothing. If you say there is nothing I 
will believe that I am going mad. No ; you must not touch 
the blind." 

No; there was nothing. The sky was a little dark, as 
if a blight were coming on; but there was hardly more 
than a veil of cloud, and the light was scarcely more than 
tinged with gloom. It was just such a sky as precedes a 
spring thunderstorm. She said so, clearly and firmly. 

Mabel's face steadied still more. 

"Very well, nurse. . . . Then " 

She turned to the little table by the side on which Sister 
Anne had set down what she had brought into the room. 

"Show me, please." 

The nurse still hesitated. 

"Are you sure you are not too frightened, my dear.f* Shall 
I get you anything?" 



312 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"I have no more to say," said Mabel firmly. "Show me, 
please." 

Sister Anne turned resolutely to the table. 

There rested upon it a white-enamelled box, delicately 
painted with flowers. From this box emerged a white flexi- 
ble tube with a broad mouthpiece, fitted with two leather- 
covered steel clasps. From the side of the box nearest the 
chair protruded a little china handle. 

"Now, my dear," began the nurse quietly, watching the 
other's eyes turn once again to the window, and then back 
— "now, my dear, you sit there, as you are now. Your 
head right back, please. When you are ready, you put 
this over your mouth, and clasp the springs behind your 
head. . . . So. ... it works quite easily. Then you 
turn this handle, round that way, as far as it will go. And 
that is all." 

Mabel nodded. She had regained her self-command, and 
understood plainly enough, though even as she spoke once 
again her eyes strayed away to the window. 

"That is all," she said. "And what then?" 

The nurse eyed her doubtfully for a moment. 

"I understand perfectly," said Mabel. "And what 
then?" 

"There is nothing more. Breathe naturally. You will 
feel sleepy almost directly. Then you close your eyes, and 
that is all." 

Mabel laid the tube on the table and stood up. She was 
completely herself now. 

"Give me a kiss, sister," she said. 

The nurse nodded and smiled to her once more at the 



THE VICTORY 313 

door. But Mabel hardly noticed it ; again she was looking 
towards the window. 

"I shall come back in half-an-hour," said Sister Anne. 
Then her eyes caught a square of white upon the centre 
table. "Ah ! that letter !" she said. 

"Yes," said the girl absently. "Please take it." 

The nurse took it up, glanced at the address, and again 
at Mabel. Still she hesitated. 

"In half-an-hour," she repeated. "There is no hurry at 
all. It doesn't take five minutes. . , . Good-bye, my dear." 

But Mabel was still looking out of the window, and made 
no answer. 



Ill 



Mabel stood perfectly still until she heard the locking 
of the door and the withdrawal of the key. Then once 
more she went to the window and clasped the sill. 

From where she stood there was visible to her first the 
courtyard beneath, with its lawn in the centre, and a couple 
of trees growing there — all plain in the brilliant light that 
now streamed from her window ; and secondly, above the 
roofs, a tremendous pall of ruddy black. It was the more 
terrible from the contrast. Earth, it seemed, was capable 
of light ; heaven had failed. 

It appeared, too, that there was a curious stillness. The 
house was, usually, quiet enough at this hour: the inhabi- 
tants of that place were in no mood for bustle: but now 
it was more than quiet; it was deathly still: it was such a 
hush as precedes the sudden crash of the sky's artillery. 



314 LORD OF THE WORLD 

But the moments went by, and there was no such crash: 
only once again there sounded a solemn rolling, as of some 
great wain far away ; stupendously impressive, for with 
it to the girl's ears there seemed mingled a murmur of in- 
numerable voices, ghostly crying and applause. Then 
again the hush settled down like wool. 

She had begun to understand now. The darkness and 
the sounds were not for all eyes and ears. The nurse had 
seen and heard nothing extraordinary, and the rest of the 
world of men saw and heard nothing. To them it was no 
more than the hint of a coming storm. 

Mabel did not attempt to distinguish between the sub- 
jective and the objective. It was nothing to her as to 
whether the sights and sounds were generated by her own 
brain or perceived by some faculty hitherto unknown. 
She seemed to herself to be standing already apart from 
the world which she had known ; it was receding from her, 
or, rather, while standing where it had always done, it was 
melting, transforming itself, passing to some other mode 
of existence. The strangeness seemed no more strange than 
anything else — than that . . . that little painted box upon 
the table. 

Then, hardly knowing what she said, looking steadily 
upon that appalling sky, she began to speak. . . . 

"O God!" she said. "If You are really there — really 
there " 

Her voice faltered, and she gripped the sill to steady her- 
self. She wondered vaguely why she spoke so ; it was 
neither intellect nor emotion that inspired her. Yet she con- 
tinued. . . . 

"O God, I know You are not there — of course You are 



THE VICTORY 315 

not. But if You were there, I know what I would sslj to 
You. I would tell You how puzzled and tired I am. No — 
No — I need not tell You: You would know it. But I 
would say that I was very sorry for all this. Oh! You 
would know that too. I need not say anything at all. O 
Grod ! I don't know what I want to say. I would like You 
to look after Oliver, of course, and all Your poor Chris- 
tians. Oh ! they will have such a hard time. . . . God. 
God — You would understand, wouldn't You?" . . . 

Again came the heavy rumble and the solemn bass of a 
myriad voices ; it seemed a shade nearer, she thought. . . . 
She never liked thunderstorms or shouting crowds. They 
alwaj's gave her a headache. . . . 

"Well, well," she said. "Good-bye, everything " 

Then she was in the chair. The mouthpiece — yes; that 
was it. . . . 

She was furious at the trembling of her hands ; twice the 
spring slipped from her polished coils of hair. . . . Then 
it was fixed . . . and as if a breeze fanned her, her sense 
came back. . . . 

She found she could breathe quite easily ; there was no 
resistance — that was a comfort ; there would be no suffoca- 
tion about it. . . . She put out her left hand and touched 
the handle, conscious less of its sudden coolness than of 
the unbearable heat in which the room seemed almost sud- 
denly plunged. She could hear the drumming pulses in 
her temples and the roaring of the voices. . . . She dropped 
the handle once more, and with both hands tore at the loose 
white wrapper that she had put on this morning. . . . 
Yes, that was a little easier; she could breathe better so. 



316 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Again her fingers felt for and found the handle, but the 
sweat streamed from her fingers, and for an instant she 
could not turn the knob. Then it yielded suddenly. . . . 

For one instant the sweet languid smell struck her con- 
sciousness like a blow, for she knew it as the scent of death. 
Then the steady will that had borne her so far asserted 
itself, and she laid her hands softly in her lap, breathing 
deeply and easily. 

She had closed her eyes at the turning of the handle,but now 
opened them again, curious to watch the aspect of the fading 
world. She had determined to do this a week ago : she would 
at least miss nothing of this unique last experience. 

It seemed at first that there was no change. There was 
the feathery head of the elm, the lead roof opposite, and 
the terrible sky above. She noticed a pigeon, white 
against the blackness, soar and swoop again out of sight 
in an instant. . . . 

. . . Then the following things happened. . . . 

There was a sudden sensation of ecstatic lightness in all 
her limbs ; she attempted to lift a hand, and was aware 
that it was impossible; it was no longer hers. She at- 
tempted to lower her eyes from that broad strip of violet 
sky, and perceived that that too was impossible. Then 
she understood that the will had already lost touch with 
the body, that the crumbling world had receded to an in- 
finite distance — that was as she had expected, but what 
continued to puzzle her was that her mind was still active. 
It was true that the world she had known had withdrawn 
itself from the dominion of consciousness, as her body had 



THE VICTORY 317 

done, except, that was, in the sense of hearing, which was 
still strangely alert ; yet there was still enough memory to 
be aware that there was such a world — that there were other 
persons in existence ; that men went about their business, 
knowing nothing of what had happened ; but faces, names, 
places had all alike gone. In fact, she was conscious of 
herself in such a manner as she had never been before; 
it seemed as if she had penetrated at last into some recess 
of her being into which hitherto she had only looked as 
through clouded glass. This was very strange, and yet it 
was familiar, too ; she had arrived, it seemed, at a centre, 
round the circumference of which she had been circling all 
her life ; and it was more than a mere point : it was a dis- 
tinct space, walled and enclosed. ... At the same instant 
she knew that hearing, too, was gone. . . . 

Then an amazing thing happened — yet it appeared to 
her that she had always known it would happen, although 
her mind had never articulated it. This is what happened. 

The enclosure melted, with a sound of breaking, and a 
limitless space was about her — limitless, different to every- 
thing else, and alive, and astir. It was alive, as a breath- 
ing, panting body is alive — self-evident and overpowering 
— it was one, yet it was many ; it was immaterial, yet abso- 
lutely real — real in a sense in which she never dreamed of 
reality. . . . 

Yet even this was familiar, as a place often visited in 
dreams is familiar; and then, without warning, something 
resembling sound or light, something which she knew in 
an instant to be unique, tore across it. . . . 

Then she saw, and understood. . . . 



CHAPTER V 



Oliver had passed the days since Mabel's disappearance 
in an indescribable horror. He had done all that was pos- 
sible: he had traced her to the station and to Victoria, 
where he lost her clue; he had communicated with the 
police, and the official answer, telling him nothing, had 
arrived to the effect that there was no news : and it was not 
until the Tuesday following her disappearance that Mr. 
Francis, hearing by chance of his trouble, informed hira 
by telephone that he had spoken with her on the Friday 
night. But there was no satisfaction to be got from him 
— indeed, the news was bad rather than good, for Oliver 
could not but be dismayed at the report of the conversa- 
tion, in spite of Mr. Francis's assurances that Mrs. Brand 
had shown no kind of inclination to defend the Christian 
cause. 

Two theories gradually emerged in his mind; either she 
was gone to the protection of some unknown Catholic, or — 
and he grew sick at the thought — she had applied some- 
where for Euthanasia as she had once threatened, and was 
now under the care of the Law; such an event was suffi- 
ciently common since the passing of the Release Act in 
1998. And it was frightful that he could not condemn it. 

On the Tuesday evening, as he sat heavily in his room, 



THE VICTORY 319 

for the hundredth time attempting to trace out some co- 
herent hne through the maze of intercourse he had had 
with his wife during these past months, his bell suddenly 
rang. It was the red label of Whitehall that had made 
its appearance; and for an instant his heart leaped with 
hope that it was news of her. But at the first words it 
sank again. 

"Brand," came the sharp fairy voice, "is that you ? . . . 
Yes, I am Snowford. You are wanted at once — at once, 
you understand. There is an extraordinary meeting of the 
Council at twenty o'clock. The President will be there. 
You understand the urgency. No time for more. Come 
instantly to my room." 

Even this message scarcely distracted him. He, with 
the rest of the world, was no longer surprised at the sudden 
descents of the President. He came and vanished again 
without warning, travelling and working with incredible 
energy, yet always, as it seemed, retaining his personal 
calm. 

It was already after nineteen ; Oliver supped immediate^, 
and a quarter-of-an-hour before the hour presented himself 
in Snowford's room, where half a dozen of his colleagues 
were assembled. 

That minister came forward to meet him, with a strange 
excitement in his face. He drew him aside by a button. 

"See here. Brand, you are wanted to speak first — imme- 
diately after the President's Secretary who will open ; they 
are coming from Paris. It is about a new matter alto- 
gether. He has had information of the whereabouts of the 
Pope. ... It seems that there is one. . . . Oh, you will 



S20 LORD OP THE WORLD 

understand presently. Oh, and by the way," he went on, 
looking curiously at the strained face, "I am sorry to hear 
of your anxiety. Pemberton told me just now." 

Oliver lifted a hand abruptly. 

"Tell me," he said. "What am I wanted to say.?" 

"Well, the President will have a proposal, we imagine. 
You know our minds well enough. Just explain our atti- 
tude towards the Catholics." 

Oliver's eyes shrank suddenly to two bright lines beneath 
the lids. He nodded. 

Cartwright came up presently, an immense, bent old man 
with a face of parchment, as befitted the Lord Chief 
Justice. 

"By the way. Brand, what do you know of a man called 
Phillips? He seems to have mentioned your name." 

"He was my secretary," said Oliver slowly. "What about 
him.?" 

"I think he must be mad. He has given himself up to 
a magistrate, entreating to be examined at once. The 
magistrate has applied for instructions. You see, the Act 
has scarcely begun to move yet." 

"But what has he done.?" 

"That's the difficulty. He says he cannot deny God, 
neither can he affirm Him. — He was your secretary, then.?" 

"Certainly. I knew he was inclined to Christianity. I 
had to get rid of him for that." 

"Well, he is to be remanded for a week. Perhaps he will 
be able to make up his mind." 

Then the talk shifted off again. Two or three more came 
up, and all eyed Oliver with a certain curiosity ; the story 



THE VICTORY 321 

was gone about that his wife had left him. They wished 
to see how he took it. 

At five minutes before the hour a bell rang, and the door 
into the corridor was thrown open. 

"Come, gentlemen," said the Prime Minister. 

The Council Chamber was a long high room on the first 
floor; its walls from floor to ceiling were lined with books. 
A noiseless rubber carpet was underfoot. There were no 
windows ; the room was lighted artificially. A long table, 
set round with armed chairs, ran the length of the floor, 
eight on either side ; and the Presidential chair, raised on a 
dais, stood at the head. 

Each man went straight to his chair in silence, and re- 
mained there, waiting. 

The room was beautifully cool, in spite of the absence 
of windows, and was a pleasant contrast to the hot even- 
ing outside through which most of these men had come. 
They, too, had wondered at the surprising weather, and 
had smiled at the conflict of the infallible. But they were 
not thinking about that now: the coming of the President 
was a matter which always silenced the most loquacious. 
Besides, this time, they understood that the aff'air was more 
serious than usual. 

At one minute before the hour, again a bell sounded, four 
times, and ceased; and at the signal each man turned in- 
stinctively to the high sliding door behind the Presidential 
chair. There was dead silence within and without : the huge 
Government offices were luxuriously provided with sound- 
deadening apparatus, and not even the rolling of the vast 
motors within a hundred yards was able to send a vibration 



322 LORD OF THE WORLD 

through the layers of rubber on which the walls rested. 
There was only one noise that could penetrate, and that 
the sound of thunder. The experts were at present unable 
to exclude this. 

Again the silence seemed to fall in one yet deeper veil. 
Then the door opened, and a figure came swiftly through, 
followed by Another in black and scarlet. 



II 



He passed straight up to the chair, followed by two secre- 
taries, bowed slightly to this side and that, sat down and 
made a little gesture. Then they, too, were in their chairs, 
upright and intent. For perhaps the hundredth time, 
Oliver, staring upon the President, marvelled at the quiet- 
ness and the astounding personality of Him. He was in 
the English judicial dress that had passed down through 
centuries — black and scarlet with sleeves of white fur and 
a crimson sash — and that had lately been adopted as the 
English presidential costume of him who stood at the head 
of the legislature. But it was in His personality, in the 
atmosphere that flowed from Him, that the marvel lay. 
It was as the scent of the sea to the physical nature — it 
exhilarated, cleansed, kindled, intoxicated. It was as inex- 
plicably attractive as a cherry orchard in spring, as affect- 
ing as the cry of stringed instruments, as compelling as a 
storm. So writers had said. They compared it to a stream 
of clear water, to the flash of a gem, to the love of woman. 
They lost all decency sometimes ; they said it fitted all 
moods, as the voice of many waters; they called it again 



THE VICTORY 323 

and again, as explicitly as possible, the Divine Nature per- 
fectly Incarnate at last. ... 

Then Oliver's reflections dropped from him like a mantle, 
for the President, with downcast eyes and head thrown back, 
made a little gesture to the ruddy-faced secretary on His 
right; and this man, without a movement, began to speak 
like an impersonal actor repeating his part. 

"Gentlemen," he said, in an even, resonant voice, "the 
President is come direct from Paris. This afternoon His 
Honour was in Berlin; this morning, early, in Moscow. 
Yesterday in New York. To-night His Honour must be 
in Turin ; and to-morrow will begin to return through 
Spain, North Africa, Greece and the southeastern states." 

This was the usual formula for such speeches. The Presi- 
dent spoke but little himself now ; but was careful for the 
information of his subjects on occasions like this. His 
secretaries were perfectly trained, and this speaker was no 
exception. After a slight pause, he continued: 

"This is the business, gentlemen. 

"Last Thursday, as you are aware, the Plenipotentaries 
signed the Test Act in this room, and it was immediately 
communicated all over the world. At sixteen o'clock His 
Honour received a message from a man named DolgorovskI 
— who is, it is understood, one of the Cardinals of the 
Catholic Church. This he claimed; and on inquiry it was 
found to be a fact. His information confirmed what was 
already suspected — namely, that there was a man claiming 
to be Pope, who had created (so the phrase is) other cardi- 
nals, shortly after the destruction of Rome, subsequent to 
which his own election took place in Jerusalem. It appears 



324 LORD OF THE WORLD 

that this Pope, with a good deal of statesmanship, has 
chosen to keep his own name and place of residence a secret 
from even his own followers, with the exception of the 
twelve cardinals ; that he has done a great deal, through 
the instrumentality of one of his cardinals in particular, 
and through his new Order in general, towards the reorgan- 
isation of the Catholic Church ; and that at this moment he 
is living, apart from the world, in complete security. 

"His Honour blames Himself that He did not do more 
than suspect something of the kind — misled. He thinks, by 
a belief that if there had been a Pope, news would have 
been heard of it from other quarters, for, as is well known, 
the entire structure of the Christian Church rests upon him 
as upon a rock. Further, His Honour thinks inquiries 
should have been made in the very place where now it is 
understood that this Pope is living. 

"The man's name, gentlemen, is Franklin " 

Oliver started uncontrollably, but relapsed again to 
bright-eyed intelligence as for an instant the President 
glanced up from his motionlessness. 

"Frankhn," repeated the secretary, "and he is living in 
Nazareth, where, it is said, the Founder of Christianity 
passed His youth. 

"Now this, gentlemen. His Honour heard on Thursday in 
last week. He caused inquiries to be made, and on Friday 
morning received further intelligence from Dolgorovski 
that this Pope had summoned to Nazareth a meeting of 
his cardinals, and certain other officials, from all over the 
world, to consider what steps should be taken in view of the 
new Test Act. This His Honour takes to show an extreme 
want of statesmanship which seems hard to reconcile with 



THE VICTORY 325 

his former action. These persons are summoned by special 
messengers to meet on Saturday next, and will begin their 
deliberations after some Christian ceremonies on the follow- 
ing morning. 

"You wish, gentlemen, no doubt, to know Dolgorovski's 
motives in making all this known. His Honour is satis- 
fied that they are genuine. The man has been losing be- 
lief in his religion ; In fact, he has come to see that this 
religion is the supreme obstacle to the consolidation of the 
race. He has esteemed it his duty, therefore, to lay this 
information before His Honour. It is interesting as an 
historical parallel to reflect that the same kind of incident 
marked the rise of Christianity as will mark, it is thought, 
its final extinction — namely, the informing on the ipanrt of 
one of the leaders of the place and method by which the 
principal personage may be best approached. It is also, 
surely, very significant that the scene of the extinction of 
Christianity is identical with that of its Inauguration. . . . 

"Well, gentlemen, His Honour's proposal Is as follows, 
carrying out the Declaration to which you all acceded. It 
is that a force should proceed during the night of Satur- 
day next to Palestine, and on the Sunday morning, when 
these men will be all gathered together, that this force 
should finish as swiftly and mercifully as possible the work 
to which the Powers have set their hands. So far, the con- 
sent of the Governments which have been consulted has 
been unanimous, and there Is little doubt that the rest will 
be equally so. His Honour felt that He could not act in 
so grave a matter on His own responsibility ; it is not 
merely local; it is a catholic administration of justice, and 
will have results wider than it is safe minutely to prophesy. 



326 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"It is not necessary to enter into His Honour's reasons. 
They are already well known to you ; but before asking 
for your opinion, He desires me to indicate what He thinks, 
in the event of your approval, should be the method of 
action. 

"Each Government, it is proposed, should take part in 
the final scene, for it is something of a symbolic action ; 
and for this purpose it is thought well that each of the 
three Departments of the World should depute volors, to 
the number of the constituting States, one hundred and 
twenty-two all told, to set about the business. These volors 
should have no common meeting-ground, otherwise the news 
will surely penetrate to Nazareth, for it is understood that 
this new Order of Christ Crucified has a highly organised 
system of espionage. The rendezvous, then, should be no 
other than Nazareth itself ; and the time of meeting should 
be, it is thought, not later than nine o'clock according to 
Palestine reckoning. These details, however, can be decided 
and communicated as soon as a determination has been 
formed as regards the entire scheme. 

"With respect to the exact method of carrying out the 
conclusion. His Honour is inclined to think it will be more 
merciful to enter into no negotiations with the persons con- 
cerned. An opportunity should be given to the inhabitants 
of the village to make their escape if they so desire it, and 
then, with the explosives that the force should carry, the 
end can be practically instantaneous. 

"For Himself, His Honour proposes to be there in person, 
and further that the actual discharge should take place 
from His own car. It seems but suitable that the world 
which has done His Honour the goodness to elect Him to its 



THE VICTORY 327 

Presidentship should act through His hands ; and this 
would be at least some slight token of respect to a supersti- 
tion which, however infamous, is yet the one and only force 
capable of withstanding the true progress of man, 

"His Honour promises you, gentlemen, that in the event 
of this plan being carried out, we shall be no more troubled 
with Christianity. Already the moral effect of the Test 
Act has been prodigious. It is understood that, by tens 
of thousands. Catholics, numbering among them even mem- 
bers of this new fanatical Religious Order, have been re- 
nouncing their follies even in these few days ; and a final 
blow struck now at the very heart and head of the Catholic 
Church, eliminating, as it would do, the actual body on 
which the entire organisation subsists, would render its 
resurrection impossible. It is a well-known fact that, 
granted the extinction of the line of Popes, together with 
those necessary for its continuance, there could be no longer 
any question amongst even the most ignorant that the claim 
of Jesus had ceased to be either reasonable or possible. 
Even the Order that has provided the sinews for this new 
movement must cease to exist. 

"Dolgorovski, of course, is the difficulty, for it is not cer- 
tainly known whether one Cardinal would be considered suf- 
ficient for the propagation of the line; and, although re- 
luctantly. His Honour feels bound to suggest that at the 
conclusion of the affair, Dolgorovski, also, who will not, 
of course, be with his fellows at Nazareth, should be merci- 
fully removed from even the danger of a relapse. . . . 

"His Honour, then, asks you, gentlemen, as briefly as 
possible, to state your views on the points of which I have 
had the privilege of speaking." 



328 LORD OF THE WORLD 

The quiet business-like voice ceased. 

He had spoken throughout in the manner with which he 
had begun ; his eyes had been downcast throughout ; his 
voice had been tranquil and restrained. His deportment 
had been admirable. 

There was an instant's silence, and all eyes settled steadily 
again upon the motionless figure in black and scarlet and 
the ivory face. 

Then Oliver stood up. His face was as white as paper; 
his eyes bright and dilated. 

"Sir," he said, "I have no doubt that we are all of one 
mind. I need say no more than that, so far as I am a 
representative of my colleagues, we assent to the proposal, 
and leave all details in your Honour's hands." 

The President lifted his e^^es, and ran them swiftly along 
the rigid faces turned to him. 

Then, in the breathless hush, he spoke for the first time 
in his strange voice, now as passionless as a frozen river. 

"Is there any other proposal.'"' 

There was a murmur of assent as the men rose to their 
feet. 

"Thank you, gentlemen," said the secretary. 



Ill 



It was a little before seven o'clock on the morning of 
Saturday that Oliver stepped out of the motor that hnd 
carried him to Wimbledon Common, and began to go up 
the steps of the old volor-stage, abandoned five years ago. 
It had been thought better, in view of the extreme secrecy 



THE VICTORY 329 

that was to be kept, that England's representative in the 
expedition should start from a comparatively unknown 
point, and this old stage, in disuse now, except for occa- 
sional trials of new Government machines, had been selected. 
Even the lift had been removed, and it was necessary to 
climb the hundred and fifty steps on foot. 

It was with a certain unwillingness that he had accepted 
this post among the four delegates, for nothing had been 
heard of his wife, and it was terrible to him to leave Lon- 
don while her fate was as yet doubtful. On the whole, he 
was less inclined than ever now to accept the Euthanasia 
theory ; he had spoken to one or two of her friends, all* 
of whom declared that she had never even hinted at such an 
end. And, again, although he was well aware of the eight- 
day law in the matter, even if she had determined on such a 
step there was nothing to show that she was yet in Eng- 
land, and, in fact, it was more than likely that if she were 
bent on such an act she would go abroad for it, where laxer 
conditions prevailed. In short, it seemed that he could do 
no good by remaining in England, and the temptation to 
be present at the final act of justice in the East by which 
land, and, in fact, it was more than likely that if she were 
to be wiped out, and Franklin, too, among them — Frank- 
lin, that parody of the Lord of the World — this, added 
to the opinion of his colleagues in the Government, and 
the curious sense, never absent from him now, that Felsen- 
burgh's approval was a thing to die for if necessary — 
these things had finally prevailed. He left behind him at 
home his secretary, with instructions that no expense was 
to be spared in communicating with him should any news 
of his wife arrive during his absence. 



330 LORD OF THE WORLD 

It was terribly hot this morning, and, by the time that he 
reached the top he noticed that the monster in the net was 
already fitted into its white aluminium casing, and that the 
fans within the corridor and saloon were already active. 
He stepped inside to secure a seat in the saloon, set his 
bag down, and after a word or two with the guard, who, 
of course, had not yet been informed of their destination, 
learning that the others were not yet come, he went out 
again on to the platform for coolness' sake, and to brood in 
peace. 

London looked strange this morning, he thought. Here 
beneath him was the common, parched somewhat with the 
intense heat of the previous week, stretching for perhaps 
half-a-mile — tumbled ground, smooth stretches of turf, and 
the heads of heavy trees — up to the first house-roofs, set, 
too, it seemed, in bowers of foliage. Then beyond that be- 
gan the serried array, line beyond line, broken in one spot 
by the gleam of a river-reach, and then on again fading 
beyond ej^esight. But what surprised him was the density 
of the air; it was now, as old books related it had been in 
the days of smoke. There was no freshness, no translucence 
of morning atmosphere ; it was impossible to point in any 
one direction to the source of this veiling gloom, for on 
all sides it was the same. Even the sky overhead lacked its 
blue; it appeared painted with a muddy brush, and the 
sun shewed the same faint tinge of red. Yes, it was like 
that, he said wearily to himself — like a second-rate sketch ; 
there was no sense of mystery as of a veiled city, but rather 
unreality. The shadows seemed lacking in dcfiniteness, the 
outlines and grouping in coherence. A storm was wanted, 
he reflected; or even, it might be, one more earthquake on 



THE VICTORY 331 

the other side of the world would, in wonderful illustra- 
tion of the globe's unity, relieve the pressure on this side. 
Well, well; the journey would be worth taking even for 
the interest of observing climatic changes ; but it would be 
terribly hot, he mused, by the time the south of France 
was reached. 

Then his thoughts leaped back to their own gnawing 
misery. 

It was another ten minutes before he saw the scarlet Gov- 
ernment motor, with awnings out, slide up the road from 
the direction of Fulham ; and 3'et five minutes more before 
the three men appeared with their servants behind them — 
IMaxwell, Snowford and Cartwright, all alike, as was Oliver, 
in white duck from head to foot. 

They did not speak one word of their business, for the 
officials were going to and fro, and it was advisable 
to guard against even the smallest possibility of betraj'al. 
The guard had been told that the volor was required for 
a three days' journej', that provisions were to be taken in 
for that period, and that the first point towards which 
the course was to lie was the centre of the South Downs. 
There would be no stopping for at least a day and a 
night. 

Further instructions had reached them from the President 
on the previous morning, by which time He had completed 
His visitation, and received the assent of the Emergency 
Councils of the world. This Snowford commented upon in 
an undertone, and added a word or two as to details, as the 
four stood together looking out over the city. 

Eriefly, the plan was as follows, at least so far as it con- 



332 LORD OF THE WORLD 

cerned England. The volor was to approach Palestine 
from the direction of the Mediterranean, observing to get 
into touch with France on her left and Spain on her right 
within ten miles of the eastern end of Crete. The approxi- 
mate hour was fixed at twenty -three (eastern time). At 
this point she was to show her night signal, a scarlet line 
on a white field ; and in the event of her failing to observe 
her neighbours was to circle at that point, at a height of 
eight hundred feet, until either the two were sighted or 
further instructions were received. For the purpose of 
dealing with emergencies, the President's car, which would 
finally make its entrance from the south, was to be accom- 
panied by an aide-de-camp capable of moving at a very 
high speed, whose signals were to be taken as Felsenburgh's 
own. 

So soon as the circle was completed, having Esdraelon 
as its centre with a radius of five hundred and forty miles, 
the volors were to advance, dropping gradually to within 
five hundred feet of sea-level, and diminisliing their dis- 
tance one from another from the twenty-five miles or 
so at which they would first find themselves, until they 
were as near as safety allowed. In this manner the ad- 
vance at a pace of fifty miles an hour from the moment 
that the circle was arranged would bring them wnthin 
sight of Nazareth at about nine o'clock on the Sunday 
morning. 

The guard came up to the four as they stood there silent. 
"We are ready, gentlemen," he said. 

"What do you think of the weather.?" asked Snowford 
abruptly. 



THE VICTORY 333 

The guard pursed his lips. 
"A little thunder, I expect, sir," he said. 
Oliver looked at him curiousl}'. 
"No more than that?" he asked. 

"I should say a storm, sir," observed the guard shortly. 
Snowford turned towards the gangway. 
"Well, we had best be off: we can lose time further on, 
if we wish." 

It was about five minutes more before all was ready. From 
the stern of the boat came a faint smell of cooking, for 
breakfast would be served immcdiatelj^, and a white-capped 
cook protruded his head for an instant to question the 
guard. The four sat down in the gorgeous saloon in the 
bows ; Oliver silent by himself, the other three talking in 
low voices together. Once more the guard passed through 
to his compartment at the prow, glancing as he went to see 
that all were seated; and an instant later came the clang 
of the signal. Then through all the length of the boat 
— for she was the fastest ship that England possessed — 
passed the thrill of the propeller beginning to work up 
speed ; and simultaneously Oliver, staring sideways through 
the plate-glass window, saw the rail drop away, and the 
long line of London, pale beneath the tinged sky, surge 
up suddenly. He caught a glimpse of a little group of 
persons staring up from below, and they, too, dropped in 
a great swirl, and vanished. Then, with a flash of dusty 
green, the Common had vanished, and a pavement of house- 
roofs began to stream beneath, the long lines of streets 
on this side and that turning like spokes of a gigantic 
wheel; once more this pavement thinned, showing green 



834 LORD OF THE WORLD 

again as between infrequently laid cobble-stones ; then they, 
too, were gone, and the country was open beneath. 

Snowford rose, staggering a little. 

"I may as well tell the guard now," he said. "Then we 
need not be interrupted again." 



CHAPTER VI 

I 

The Syrian awoke from a dream that a myriad faces were 
looking into his own, eager, attentive and horrible, in his 
comer of the roof-top, and sat up sweating and gasping 
aloud for breath. For an instant he thought that he was 
really dying, and that the spiritual world was about him. 
Then, as he struggled, sense came back, and he stood up, 
drawing long breaths of the stifling night air. 

Above him the sky was as the pit, black and empty ; there 
was not a glimmer of light, though the moon was surely 
up. He had seen her four hours before, a red sickle, swing 
slowly out from Thabor. Across the plain, as he looked 
from the parapet, there was nothing. For a few yards 
there lay across the broken ground a single crooked lance 
of light from a half-closed shutter; and beneath that, 
nothing. To the north again, nothing ; to the west a glim- 
mer, pale as a moth's wing, from the house-roofs of Naza- 
reth; to the east, nothing. He might be on a tower-top 
in space, except for that line of light and that grey glim- 
mer that evaded the eye. 

On the roof, however, it was possible to make out at least 
outlines, for the dormer trap had been left open at the 
head of the stairs, and from somewhere within the depths 
of the house there stole up a faint refracted light. 

There was a white bundle in that corner; that would be 
the pillow of the Benedictine abbot. He had seen him lay 



336 LORD OF THE WORLD 

himself down there some time — was it four hours or four 
centuries ago? There was a grey shape stretched along 
that pale wall — the Friar, he thought ; there were other 
irregular outlines breaking the face of the parapet, here 
and there along the sides. 

Very softly, for he knew the caprices of sleep, he stepped 
across the paved roof to the opposite parapet and looked 
over, for there yet hung about him a desire for reassurance 
that he was still in company with flesh and blood. Yes, 
indeed he was still on earth ; for there was a real and dis- 
tinct light burning among the tumbled rocks, and beside 
it, delicate as a miniature, the head and shoulders of a man, 
writing. And in the circle of light were other figures, pale, 
broken patches on which men lay ; a pole or two, erected 
with the thought of a tent to follow ; a little pile of luggage 
with a rug across it ; and beyond the circle other outlines 
and shapes faded away into the stupendous blackness. 

Then the writing man moved his head, and a monstrous 
shadow fled across the ground; a yelp as of a strangling 
dog broke out suddenly close behind him, and, as he turned, 
a moaning figure sat up on the roof, sobbing itself awake. 
Another moved at the sound, and then as, sighing, the 
former relapsed heavily against the wall, once more the 
priest went back to his place, still doubtful as to the 
reality of all that he saw, and the breathless silence came 
down again as a pall. 

He woke again from dreamless sleep, and there was a 
change. From his corner, as he raised his heavy eyes, there 
met them what seemed an unbearable brightness ; then, as 
he looked, it resolved itself into a candle-flame, and beyond 



THE VICTORY 337 

it a white sleeve, and higher yet a white face and throat. 
He understood, and rose reehng ; it was the messenger come 
to fetch him as had been arranged. 

As he passed across the space, once he looked round him, 
and it seemed that the dawn must have come, for that ap- 
palling sky overhead was visible at last. An enormous 
vault, smoke-coloured and opaque, seemed to curve away 
to the ghostly horizons on either side where the far-away 
hills raised sharp shapes as if cut in paper. Carmel was 
before him; at least he thought it was that — a bull head 
and shoulders thrusting itself forward and ending in an 
abrupt descent, and beyond that again the glimmering sky. 
There were no clouds, no outlines to break the huge, 
smooth, dusky dome beneath the centre of which this 
house-roof seemed poised. Across the parapet, as he 
glanced to the right before descending the steps, stretched 
Esdraelon, sad-coloured and sombre, into the metallic dis- 
tance. It was all as unreal as some fantastic picture by 
one who had never looked upon clear sunlight. The silence 
was complete and profound. 

Straight down through the wheeling shadows he went, 
following the white-hooded head and figure down the 
stairs, along the tiny passage, stumbling once against 
the feet of one who slept with limbs tossed loose like a tired 
dog; the feet drew back mechanically, and a little moan 
broke from the shadows. Then he went on, passing the 
servant who stood aside, and entered. 

There were half-a-dozen men gathered here, silent, white 
figures standing apart one from the other, who genuflected 
as the Pope came in simultaneously through the opposite 
door, and again stood white-faced and attentive. He ran 



3^6 LORD OP THE WORLD 

his eyes over them as he stopped, waiting behind his master's 
chair — there were two he knew, remembering them from 
last night — dark-faced Cardinal Ruspoli, and the lean Aus- 
tralian Archbishop, besides Cardinal Corkran, who stood 
by his chair at the Pope's own tabic, with papers laid 
ready. 

Silvester sat down, and with a little gesture caused the 
others to sit too. Then He began at once in that quiet 
tired voice that his servant knew so well. 

"Eminences — we are all here, I think. We need lose no 
more time, then. . . .Cardinal Corkran has something to com- 
municate — " He turned a little. "Father, sit down, if 
you please. This will occupy a little while." 

The priest went across to the stone window-seat, whence 
he could watch the Pope's face in the light of the two 
candles that now stood on the table between him and the 
Cardinal-Secretary. Then the Cardinal began, glancing 
up from his papers. 

"Holiness. I had better begin a little way back. Their 
Eminences have not heard the details properly. . . . 

"I received at Damascus, on last Friday week, inquiries 
from various prelates in different parts of the world, as 
to the actual measure concerning the new policy of perse- 
cution. At first I could tell them nothing positively, for it 
was not until after twenty o'clock that Cardinal Ruspoli, 
in Turin, informed me of the facts. Cardinal Malpas con- 
firmed them a few minutes later, and the Cardinal Arch- 
bishop of Pekin at twenty-three. Before mid-day on 
Saturday I received final confirmation from my messengers 
in London. 

"I was at first surprised that Cardinal Dolgorovski did 



THE VICTORY 339 

not communicate it; for almost simultaneously with the 
Turin message' I received one from a priest of the Order 
of Christ Crucified in Moscow, to which, of course, I paid 
no attention. (It is our rule. Eminences, to treat unau- 
thorised communications in that way.) His Holiness, how- 
ever, bade me make inquiries, and I learned from Father 
Petrovoski and others that the Government placards pub- 
lished the news at twenty o'clock — ^by our time. It was 
curious, therefore, that the Cardinal had not seen it ; if he 
had seen it, it was, of course, his duty to acquaint me imme- 
diately. 

"Since that time, however, the following facts have come 
out. It is established beyond a doubt that Cardinal Dol- 
gorovski received a visitor in the course of the evening. 
His own chaplain, who, your Eminences are perhaps aware, 
has been very active in Russia on behalf of the Church, in- 
forms me of this privately. Yet the Cardinal asserts, in 
explanation of his silence, that he was alone during those 
hours, and had given orders that no one was to be admitted 
to his presence without urgent cause. This, of course, con- 
firmed His Holiness's opinion, but I received orders from 
Him to act as if nothing had happened, and to command 
the Cardinal's presence here with the rest of the Sacred 
College. To this I received an intimation that he would be 
present. Yesterday, however, a little before mid-day, I re- 
ceived a further message that his Eminency had met with a 
slight accident, but that he yet hoped to present himself in 
time for the deliberations. Since then no further news has 
arrived." 

There was a dead silence. 

Then the Pope turned to the Syrian priest. 



340 LORD OF THE WORLD 

"Father," he said, "it was you who received his Eminency's 
messages. Have you anything to add to this?" 

"No, Holiness." 

He turned again. 

"My son," he said, "report to Us pubhcly what you have 
already reported to Us in private." 

A small, bright-eyed man moved out of the shadows. 

"Holiness, it was I who conveyed the message to Cardinal 
Dolgorovski. He refused at first to receive me. When 
I reached his presence and communicated the command he 
was silent ; then he smiled ; then he told me to carry back 
the message that he would obey." 

Again the Pope was silent. 

Then suddenly the tall Australian stood up. 

"Holiness," he said, "I was once intimate with that man. 
It was partly through my means that he sought reception 
into the Catholic Church. This was not less than fourteen 
years ago, when the fortunes of the Church seemed about 
to prosper. . . . Our friendly relations ceased two years 
ago, and I may say that, from what I know of him, I 
find no difficulty in believing " 

As his voice shook with passion and he faltered, Silvester 
raised his hand. 

"We desire no recriminations. Even the evidence is now 
useless, for what was to be done has been done. For our- 
selves, we have no doubt as to its nature. ... It was to 
this man that Christ gave the morsel through our hands, 
saying Quod facts, fac citius. Cum ergo accepisset ille 
buccellam, exivit continuo. Erat outem nox.'* 

Again fell the silence, and in the pause sounded a long 
half -vocal sigh from without the door. It came and went 



THE VICTORY 341 

as a sleeper turned, for the passage was crowded with ex- 
hausted men — as a soul might sigh that passed from light 
to darkness. 

Then Silvester spoke again. And as He spoke He began, 
as if mechanically, to tear up a long paper, written with 
lists of names, that lay before Him. 

"Eminences, it is three hours after dawn. In two hours 
more We shall say mass in your presence, and give Holy 
Communion. During those two hours We commission you 
to communicate this news to all who are assembled here ; and 
further. We bestow on each and all of you jurisdiction 
apart from all previous rules of time and place; we give 
a Plenary Indulgence to all who confess and communicate 
this day. Father — " he turned to the Syrian — "Father, 
you will now expose the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel, 
after which you will proceed to the village and inform the 
inhabitants that if they wish to save their lives they had 
best be gone immediately — immediately, you understand." 

The Syrian started from his daze. 

"Holiness," he stammered, stretching out a hand, "the 
lists, the lists !" 

(He had seen what these were.) 

But Silvester only smiled as He tossed the fragments on 
to the table. Then He stood up. 

"You need not trouble, my son. . . . We shall not need 
these any more. . . . 

"One last word, Eminences. ... If there is one heart 
here that doubts or is afraid, I have a word to say," 

He paused, with an extraordinarily simple deliberateness, 
ran the eyes round the tense faces turned to Him. 

"I have had a Vision of God," He said softly. "I walk no 
more by faith, but by sight." 



342 LORD OF THE WORLD 



II 



An hour later the priest toiled back in the hot twilight 
up the path from the village, followed by half-a-dozen 
silent men, twenty yards behind, whose curiosity exceeded 
their credulousness. He had left a few more standing be- 
wildered at the doors of the little mud-houses ; and had seen 
perhaps a hundred families, weighted with domestic arti- 
cles, pour like a stream down the rocky path that led to 
Khaifa, He had been cursed by some, even threatened; 
stared upon by others ; mocked by a few. The fanatical 
said that the Christians had brought God's wrath upon the 
place, and the darkness upon the sky: the sun was d^^ing, 
for these hounds were too evil for him to look upon and 
live. Others again seemed to see nothing remarkable in the 
state of the weather. . . . 

There was no change in that sky from its state an hour 
before, except that perhaps it had lightened a little as the 
sun climbed higher behind that impenetrable dusky shroud. 
Hills, grass, men's faces — all bore to the priest's eyes the 
look of unreality ; they were as things seen in a dream 
by eyes that roll with sleep through lids weighted with lead. 
Even to other physical senses that unreality was present ; 
and once more he remembered his dream, thankful that that 
horror at least was absent. But silence seemed other than 
a negation of sound, it was a thing in itself, an affirmation, 
unruffled by the sound of footsteps, the thin barking of 
dogs, the murmur of voices. It appeared as if the still- 
ness of eternity had descended and embraced the world's ac- 
tivities, and as if that world, in a desperate attempt to as- 
sert its own reality, was braced in a set, motionless, noise- 



THE VICTORY 343 

less, breathless effort to hold itself in being. What Sil- 
vester had said just now was beginning to be true of this 
man also. The touch of the powdery soil and the warm 
pebbles beneath the priest's bare feet seemed something 
apart from the consciousness that usually regards the 
things of sense as more real and more intimate than the 
things of spirit. Matter still had a reality, still occupied 
space, but it was of a subjective nature, the result of inter- 
nal rather than external powers. He appeared to himself 
already to be scarcely more than a soul, intent and steady, 
united by a thread only to the body and the world with 
which he was yet in relations. He knew that the appalling 
heat was there ; once even, before his eyes a patch of beaten 
ground cracked and lisped as water that touches hot iron, 
as he trod upon it. He could feel the heat upon his fore- 
head and hands, his whole body was swathed and soaked 
in it ; yet he regarded it as from an outside standpoint, as 
a man with neuritis perceives that the pain is no longer 
in his hand but in the pillow which supports it. So, too, 
with what his eyes looked upon and his ears heard ; so, too, 
with that faint bitter taste that lay upon his lips and 
nostrils. There was no longer in him fear or even hope — 
he regarded himself, the world, and even the enshrouding 
and awful Presence of spirit as facts with which he had 
but little to do. He was scarcely even interested; still less 
was he distressed. There was Thabor before him — at least 
what once had been Thabor, now it was no more than a 
huge and dusky dome-shape which impressed itself upon his 
retina and informed his passive brain of its existence and 
outline, though that existence seemed no better than that 
of a dissolving phantom. 



344 LORD OF THE WORLD 

It seemed then almost natural — or at least as natural as 
all else — as he came in through the passage and opened the 
chapel-door, to see that the floor was crowded with pros- 
trate motionless figures. There they lay, all alike in the 
white burnous which he had given out last night ; and, with 
forehead on arms, as during the singing of the Litany of 
the Saints at an ordination, lay the figure he knew best 
and loved more than all the world, the shoulders and white 
hair at a slight elevation upon the single altar step. Above 
the plain altar itself burned the six tall candles ; and in 
the midst, on the mean little throne, stood the white-metal 
monstrance, with its White Centre. . . . 

Then he, too, dropped, and lay as he was. . . . 

He did not know how long it was before the circling ob- 
servant consciousness, the flow of slow images, the vibra- 
tion of particular thoughts, ceased and stilled as a pool 
rocks quietly to peace after the dropped stone has long 
lain still. But it came at last — that superb tranquillity, 
possible only when the senses are physically awake, with 
which God, perhaps once in a lifetime, rewards the aspir- 
ing trustful soul — that point of complete rest in the heart 
of the Fount of all existence with which one day He will 
reward eternally the spirits of His children. There was 
no thought in him of articulating this experience, of analys- 
ing its elements, or fingering this or that strain of ecstatic 
joy. The time for self -regarding was passed. It was 
enough that the experience was there, although he was not 
even self -reflective enough to tell himself so. He had passed 
from that circle whence the soul looks within, from that 
circle, too, whence it looks upon objective glory, to that 



THE VICTORY 345 

very centre where it reposes — and the first sign to him that 
time had passed was the murmur of words, heard distinctly 
and understood, although with that apartness with which 
a drowsy man perceives a message from without — heard 
as through a veil through which nothing but thinnest es- 
sence could transpire. 

Spiriius Domini replevit orbem terrarum. . . . The Spirit 
of the Lord hath fulfilled all things, alleluia: and that which 
contains all things hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia, 
alleluia, alleluia. 

Exsurgat Deus (and the voice rose ever so slightly). 
"Let God arise and let His enemies he scattered; and let 
them who hate Him flee before His face." 

Gloria Patri. . . . 

Then he raised his heavy head ; and a phantom figure 
stood there in red vestments, seeming to float rather than 
to stand, with thin hands outstretched, and white cap on 
white hair seen in the gleam of the steady candle-flames ; 
another, also in white, kneeled on the step. . . , 

Kyrie eleison . . . Gloria in excelsis Deo . . . those 
things passed like a shadow-show, with movements and 
rustlings, but he perceived rather the light which cast them. 
He heard Deus qui in hodierna die . . . but his passive 
mind gave no pulse of reflex action, no stir of understand- 
ing until these words. Cum complerentur dies Pente- 
costes. . . . 

" When the day of Pentecost was fully come, all the disci- 
ples were with one accord in the same place; and there came 
from heaven suddenly a sound, as of a mighty wind ap- 
proaching, and it filed the house where they were sit- 
ting. ..." 



346 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Then he remembered and understood. ... It was Pente- 
cost then ! And with memory a shred of reflection came 
back. Where then was the wind, and the flame, and the 
earthquake, and the secret voice? Yet the world was silent, 
rigid in its last eff^ort at self-assertion : there was no tremor 
to show that God remembered ; no actual point of light, yet, 
breaking the appalling vault of gloom that lay over sea 
and land to reveal that He burned there in eternity, tran- 
scendent and dominant; not even a voice; and at that he 
understood yet more. He perceived that that world, whose 
monstrous parody his sleep had presented to him in the 
night, was other than that he had feared it to be; it was 
sweet, not terrible ; friendly, not hostile ; clear, not stifling ; 
and home, not exile. There were presences here, but not 
those gluttonous, lustful things that had looked on him 
last night. . . . He dropped his head again upon his 
hands, at once ashamed and content ; and again he sank 
down to depths of glimmering inner peace. . . . 

Not again, for a while, did he perceive what he did or 
thought, or what passed there, five yards away on the low 
step. Once only a ripple passed across that sea of glass, 
a ripple of fire and sound like a rising star that flicks a 
line of light across a sleeping lake, like a thin thread of 
vibration streaming from a quivering string across the 
stillness of a deep night — and he perceived for an instant 
as in a formless mirror that a lower nature was struck into 
existence and into union with the Divine nature at the same 
moment. . . . And then no more again but the great en- 
compassing hush, the sense of the innermost heart of real- 
ity, till he found himself kneeling at the rail, and knew 



THE VICTORY 347 

that That which alone truly existed on earth approached 
him with the swiftness of thought and the ardour of Divine 
Love. . . . 

Then, as the mass ended, and he raised his passive happy 
soul to receive the last gift of God, there was a cry, a 
sudden clamour in the passage, and a man stood in the 
doorway, gabbling Arabic. 



Ill 

Yet even at that sound and sight his soul scarcely tight- 
ened the languid threads that united it through every fibre 
of his body with the world of sense. He saw and heard the 
tumult in the passage, frantic eyes and mouths crying aloud, 
and, in strange contrast, the pale ecstatic faces of those 
princes who turned and looked; even within the tranquil 
presence-chamber of the spirit where two beings. Incarnate 
God and all but Discarnate Man, were locked in embrace, 
a certain mental process went on. Yet all was still as apart 
from him as a lighted stage and its drama from a self- 
contained spectator. In the material world, now as atten- 
uated as a mirage, events were at hand ; but to his soul, bal- 
anced now on reality and awake to facts, these things were 
but a spectacle. . . . 

He turned to the altar again, and there, as he had known 
it would be, in the midst of clear light, all was at peace: 
the celebrant, seen as through molten glass, adored as He 
murmured the mystery of the Word-made-Flesh, and once 
more passing to the centre, sank upon His knees. 



348 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Again the priest understood ; for thought was no longer 
the process of a mind, rather it was the glance of a spirit. 
He knew all now ; and, by an inevitable impulse, his throat 
began to sing aloud words that, as he sang, opened for the 
first time as flowers telling their secret to the sun. 

Salutaris Hostia 

Qui coeli pandis ostium. . . . 

They were all singing now; even the Mohammedan 
catechumen who had burst in a moment ago sang with the 
rest, his lean head thrust out and his arms tight across his 
breast ; the tiny chapel rang with the forty voices, and the 
vast world thrilled to hear it. . . . 

Still singing, the priest saw the veil laid as by a phantom 
upon the Pontiff's shoulders ; there was a movement, a 
surge of figures — shadows only in the midst of substance, 

. . . Uni Trinoque Domino. . . . 

— and the Pope stood erect, Himself a pallor in the heart 
of light, with spectral folds of silk dripping from His 
shoulders. His hands swathed in them, and His down-bent 
head hidden by the silver-rayed monstrance and That which 
it bore. . . . 

. . . Qui vitam sine termino 

Nobis donet in patria. . . . 

. . . They were moving now, and the world of life swung 
with them ; of so much was he aware. He was out in the 
passage, among the white, frenzied faces that with bared 



THE VICTORY 349 

teeth stared up at that sight, silenced at last by the thun- 
der of Pange Lingua, and the radiance of those who passed 
out to eternal life. ... At the corner he turned for an 
instant to see the six pale flames move along a dozen yards 
behind, as spear-heads about a King, and in the midst the 
silver rays and the White Heart of God. . . . Then he 
was out, and the battle lay in array. ... 

That sky on which he had looked an hour ago had passed 
from darkness charged with light to light overlaid with 
darkness — from glimmering night to Wrathful Day — and 
that light was red. . . . 

From behind Thabor on the left to Carmel on the far 
right, above the hills twenty miles away rested an enor- 
mous vault of colour; here were no gradations from zenith 
to horizon ; all was the one deep smoulder of crimson as 
of the glow of iron. It was such a colour as men have seen 
at sunsets after rain, while the clouds, more translucent 
each instant, transmit the glory they cannot contain. 
Here, too, was the sun, pale as the Host, set like a fragile 
wafer above the Mount of Transfiguration, and there, far 
down in the west where men had once cried upon Baal in 
vain, hung the sickle of the white moon. Yet all was no 
more than stained light that lies broken across carven work 
of stone. . . . 

. . . In swprema node coena, 

sang the myriad voices, 

Recumhens cum fratribus 
Observata lege 'plena 



350 LORD OF THE WORLD 

Cibis in legalibus 
Cibum turhae duodenae 
Se dat suis manihus. . . . 

He saw, too, poised as motes in light, that ring of strange 
fish-creatures, white as milk, except where the angry glory 
turned their backs to flame, white-winged like floating 
moths, from the tjny shape far to the south to the monster 
at hand scarcely five hundred yards away ; and even as he 
looked, singing as he looked, he understood that the circle 
was nearer, and perceived that these as yet knew noth- 
ing 

. . . Verbum caro, panem verum 
Verbo carnem efficit. . . . 

. . . They were nearer still, until now even at his feet 
there slid along the ground the shadow of a monstrous 
bird, pale and undefined, as between the wan sun and him- 
self moved out the vast shape that a moment ago hung 
above the Hill. . . . Then again it backed across and 
waited. . . . 

. . . Et si sensus deficit 

Ad formandum cor sincerutn 
Sola -fides sufficit. . . . 

. . . He had halted and turned, going in the midst of 
his fellows, hearing, he thought, the thrill of harping and 
the throb of heavenly drums ; and, across the space, moved 
now the six flames, steady as if cut of steel in that stupen- 
dous poise of heaven and earth ; and in their centre the sil- 
ver-rayed glory and the Whiteness of God made Man. . . . 



THE VICTORY 351 

. . . Then, with a roar, came the thunder again, pealing 
in circle beyond circle of those tremendous Presences — 
Thrones and Powers — who, themselves to the world as sub- 
stance to shadow, are but shadows again beneath the apex 
and within the ring of Absolute Deity. . . . The thunder 
broke loose, shaking the earth that now cringed on the quiv- 
ering edge of dissolution. . . . 

Tantum ergo sacramentum 
Veneremur Cernui 

Et ANTiaUUM DOCUMENTUM 

Novo Cedat Ritui. . . . 

Ah ! yes ; it was He for whom God waited now — He who 
far up beneath that trembling shadow of a dome, itself 
but the piteous core of unimagined splendour, came in His 
swift chariot, blind to all save that on which He had fixed 
His eyes so long, unaware that His world corrupted about 
Him, His shadow moving like a pale cloud across the 
ghostly plain where Israel had fought and Sennacherib 
boasted — that plain lighted now with a yet deeper glow, 
as heaven, kindling to glory beyond glory of yet fiercer 
spiritual flame, still restrained the power knit at last to 
the relief of final revelation, and for the last time the 
voices sang. ... 

Praestet Fides supplementum 
Sensuum defectui. . . . 

. . . He was coming now, swifter than ever, the heir of 
temporal ages and the Exile of eternity, the final piteous 
Prince of rebels, the creature against God, blinder than the 



352 LORD OF THE WORLD 

sun which paled and the earth that shook ; and, as He came, 
passing even then through the last material stage to the 
thinness of a spirit-fabric, the floating circle swirled behind 
Him, tossing like phantom birds in the wake of a phantom 
ship, . , . He was coming, and the earth, rent once again 
in its allegiance, shrank and reeled in the agony of divided 
homage. . . . 

, . . He was coming — and alread}' the shadow swept off 
the plain and vanished, and the pale netted wrings were ris- 
ing to the check ; and the great bell clanged, and the long 
sweet chord rang out — not more than wliispers heard across 
the pealing storm of everlasting praise. . . . 

. . . Genitori genitoque 
Laus et jubilatio 
Sal,us honor virtus auoftu 
Sit et benedictio 

PrOCEDENTI AB UTROftUE 
COMPAR SIT LAUDATIO. . . . 

and once more 

PROCEDENTI AB UTROQUE 
COMPAR SIT LAUDATIO. . . . 

Then this world passed, and the glory of it. 

THE END 



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823,91 B475L 561343 

Lord of the world. 



823.91 B475L igei™